Top 5 Reasons Employees May Hesitate to Use the EAP

February 18, 2018

Does your organization have an Employee Assistance Program?

According to the International Employee Assistance Professional Association, an estimated 97 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees have an EAP; 80 percent of companies with 1,001 – 5,000 employees have one; and 75 percent of companies with 251 – 1,000 employees have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

These savvy organizations know that EAP’s are a valuable resource to employees and their family members as well as to the organization as a whole. The EAP can help employees deal with personal or professional issues before they become unmanageable. EAP’s offer short-term counseling with professional counselors for a variety of issues such as stress, relationship issues, substance abuse and mental health issues.   An EAP program will help decrease turnover and absenteeism and support ongoing wellness initiatives that contribute to the overall health of the employee and the organization.

Today’s EAPs are geared to help employees find child care and elder care resources and to help with legal and financial issues creating a better life balance for all.  EAPs have evolved with the times with the additions of mobile apps, virtual counseling, text messaging, and interactive websites and webinars.

So, if we know all the positive benefits of EAP why would an employee hesitate to use the services? Here are the top reasons why an employee might not use the EAP:

  1. Stigma – Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues.  Asking for help is a hard thing to do for many of us.  It is not surprising that utilization of the EAP by women is much higher than rates for men who often think they should be tough enough to work things out on their own. Keep in mind, everyone needs help at some point in their lives, and there is no shame in reaching out for assistance.
  2. Confidentiality- Employees worry that their personal issues may be shared with HR and co-workers. This is not the case. All conversations with the employee are held in strict confidence and no information can be shared without a written release of information signed by the employee. Workplace Solutions follows all HIPPA guidelines as most EAP’s do. There are, however, limits to confidentiality which include threats of harm to self or to
  3. No Need to Ask for Permission – Right behind confidentiality is the misperception that an employee needs to ask for permission to access services. An employee does not need to ask their manager or HR for permission to call the EAP.  EAP’s have 24 hour/7 day a week toll-free numbers that employees can access confidentially.  No need to inform anyone you are contacting the EAP.
  4. Lack of Knowledge of What the EAP is all about – Most know that the EAP offers counseling, but the benefit is so much more than that. The EAP also offers work-life and legal-financial resources as well as training and webinars. Need a dog walker? Need a handyman? Call your EAP.
  5. Lack of Awareness of the EAP Benefit – Companies would do well to continue promoting the EAP throughout the year. It isn’t enough to inform employees of the EAP benefit when they have new employee orientation – a time when employees are bombarded with all sorts of information. It pays to remind employees with posters, flyers, and periodic orientations for departments and all-staff meetings. Offering lunch and learn training sessions on a variety of mental health topics provides not only education but also reinforces the EAP benefit.

Companies that implement an EAP invest in their employees’ health and well-being, and that can only result in an overall benefit to the entire organization.  EAPs need to work closely with HR professionals to not only promote the EAP and raise awareness of the benefit but to also educate employees on all that the EAP can offer, therefore, increasing utilization of the EAP program and that can only be considered a good thing for employees.