Tips to boost the effectiveness of your Employee Assistance Program
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can reduce the impact and severity of mental ill-health for workers. But research shows they can be treated as a ‘tick box’ for employers, rather than a meaningful tool for employees. Get the most value from your EAP with these tips.
What it looks like when EAPs aren't effective
EAPs are one way to support early help seeking which can reduce the impact and severity of mental ill-health for workers. In 2020, Employee Assistance Professionals Association Australia (EAPAA) reported that EAPs were 84% effective in resolving the issues presented. However, SIRA’s research found that employees had diverse experiences with EAPs, with some recalling negative aspects, including:
- Low awareness and limited understanding of what their EAP offered
- Low employee uptake - EAPAA reported that EAPs were only accessed by 6% of employees
- Perception that some clinicians were unsuitable or not experienced enough to address specific employee needs
- Feelings that the services were not tailored enough to the individual’s needs, including factors such as the number of sessions and availability of in-person support
Tips to make the most out of your EAP
1. Put an emphasis on promotion
Promoting your EAP regularly ensures that employees understand what support is available to them before they need it. Here are some ways to promote your EAP:
- Arrange an employee presentation with an EAP representative to share information on what is available and answer employee questions
- Provide information packs on the full suite of offerings available (e.g., financial support, dieticians etc.)
- Post visual reminders such as posters on bulletin boards or videos on internal websites
- Integrate EAP information into Human Resources or Work Health and Safety systems that workers access regularly
Make sure your promotions address hesitations workers may have in accessing EAP, like concerns around confidentiality and privacy, to reduce barriers that can prevent people from using the service.
2. Tailor the program to your employees' needs
Work with your EAP provider to tailor the program so it meets the needs of your workforce. Consider these suggestions from SIRA’s research:
- Allocate the number of sessions offered according to need
- Improve access to in-person services in rural/regional areas
- Provide opportunities for employees to select their clinician based on gender, location, cultural background, and area of expertise
Ensure your provider thoroughly assesses an employee’s needs in their initial sessions, so they can deliver a more tailored service to that individual. You should also make sure that your EAP connects employees to additional services if they require more holistic, targeted, or long-term support.
3. Monitor and evaluate the program regularly
Selecting the correct EAP for your workplace can be a complex task. It's important to monitor your EAP consistently to ensure it meets the needs of your employees. Comcare has practical resources to help evaluate your EAP which includes six evidence-informed principles to support implementation and uptake of the service, as well as a framework to monitor and evaluate the services over time.
More ways to support early help-seeking in the workplace
EAPs are just one way you can support and promote good mental health in the workplace. See what other actions you can take
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