4 things to consider when communicating your Employee Assistance Programme

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a powerful tool as part of any health and wellbeing strategy and is beneficial to both staff and employers. Helping provide employees with confidential advice and support can make your benefits package really stand out.

What is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?
An EAP provides support for employees facing issues in their work or home life through a totally confidential helpline service. Usually the service runs 24/7. The best EAP’s also provide face-to-face support for employees.

The Benefits of an Employee Assistance Programme
An EAP can help improve both mental and physical health. Research shows this. A 2015 study of 3,500 employees that used an EAP found that the percentage of employees struggling with workplace pressures reduced from 51% to 5% with the help of the EAP. It was also shown to improve engagement and concentration with work.

How to make sure employees who need it are using your EAP
To figure this out, we first need to identify the reasons why people don’t use it. The 4 main reasons tend to be:
• They aren’t aware the service is confidential
• They’re held back by stigma
• They think they need permission from HR or their boss
• They aren’t aware it’s available to them

Be clear in your communication
The first thing you need to make sure you do is not only communicate the EAP to employees but educate them about how it works. Communicating your employee benefits can be done in a number of ways but it’s important to really drive home the point that the EAP is completely confidential. This means not only reminded them that it’s confidential, but going into detail. Be very clear in saying that the company nor anyone else has any record or knowledge of an employee’s use of the EAP. Try to cover all angles on why an employee might think the service isn’t confidential.

Remove the stigma
The second important thing you’ll need to do is tackle the stigma. Make it clear that everyone within the workplace can have worries and struggles and that it’s normal to seek help. Make sure you let employees know everything that the EAP covers. They might not be aware that your EAP also covers financial worries for example.

Make sure every employee knows the EAP is available to them
This goes back to having an effective employee benefits communication plan in place. As the EAP is becoming more and more important, it could be worth choosing a more personal way to communicate this service to your employees. Think about sending a letter or personalised emails to all staff. When someone needs help, that personalised communication can be a deciding factor in an employee choosing to seek help through your EAP.

Providing an EAP not only shows a company’s desire to look out for their employees but will also help boost productivity and attendance. A happier and healthier workforce means higher levels of engagement and reduced sickness absence.