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Reframing Employee Assistance Programs to Boost Utilization

12 Oct. 2016 Posted by aadams

Written by Amy Haft, FEI Senior Account Manager

Despite an increase in behavioral health issues in the workplace and the availability of employee assistance program (EAP) services at no cost to employees, the national average for EAP use within an organization continues to be 3 to 4 percent. Although studies show use of EAP services has a positive impact on these health issues as well as productivity and absenteeism, it remains challenging to get both organizations and their employees to use the services.

At the same time, a recent report from Aon Hewitt reveals that more than half of Millennials (52 percent), the largest generational group currently in the workplace, said they believe the health and wellness programs offered by their employer make them feel better about their company, as compared to only 39 percent of other generations. It’s also one of the reasons Millennials stay at their jobs.

So what’s stopping employees from accessing services? FEI experts have discussed possible reasons such as the stigma of seeking behavioral health services, wariness about confidentiality and lack of awareness. But what if behavioral health services could be reframed as wellness services—where there is no stigma for taking care of yourself and achieving well-being?

EAP services easily link to components of wellness—emotional and mental health, financial health, family health. In fact, emotional well-being and resiliency can be used interchangeably. Emphasizing how EAP can be used to enhance interpersonal relationships, address parenting and family challenges, build on personal strengths, manage strong feelings and navigate through life’s transitions puts a more positive spin on what EAP has to offer. Even one of the most common reason for accessing services—stress—can be reframed to show how “good stress” can be optimized to enhance performance.

We at FEI are designing our literature to reflect this concept and reinforce the idea that seeking help is a positive choice, and investing in your psychological/emotional fitness, financial fitness and social well-being will lead to positive outcomes. We want to help our customers create a culture where caregiving and seeking help is encouraged and accepted.

The result? A multitude of studies have shown companies characterized by a positive work culture lead to improved employee loyalty, engagement, performance, creativity and productivity. Who wouldn't want that?

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