Bargain Basement: The Future of EAPs?

in EAPs, Uncategorized

I’ve often argued that EAPs have gotten a free pass —complacently marketing limited, outdated, poor-quality services, albeit at a relatively low price. Employers have willingly played along, readily purchasing this relatively cheap employee benefit so that they can check the box. “We have a mental health strategy.” Utilization is notoriously low, and most employers do little to promote the service beyond handing out a brochure or sending a link to new hires.

Recently, a client asked me, “What will become the key driver in the next 5 years moving employers away from EAPs?”

At a time when a lot of change is going on in mental health services, and market conditions are unprecedented, I can only guess 5 years ahead.

One possibility: EAPs survive as a bargain basement option. I can imagine benefit to more innovative, quality driven mental health service providers—those that may charge many times more than EAPs—helping clarify this distinction for employers.

I don’t foresee employers demanding more of EAPs, unless some jumbo employers collaboratively lead the way—for example, by setting standards thru purchasing consortiums.

Keep an eye on increased influence of organized labor. Maybe they will demand better quality. If I were running a mental health company, I might consider promotion direct to labor organizations as part of the long game. Not sure—it’s not my area of expertise.

A lot depends on consolidation. Do the newer solution providers consolidate and leverage their expanded resources to distinguish themselves from EAPs? Or do jumbo EAPs acquire and merge with some of the newer companies, in which case the future—in terms of quality and pricing—is anyone’s guess?

PS: I’m referring only to external EAPs (vendors). Not the internal employee assistance programs that health care organizations and universities sometimes provide for their employees.

A Successful Work and Family Stress Program — Looking Back

in EAPs, Stress, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

health care worker with stress

I’ve fessed up about two of my employee mental health flops. But I’ve had successes, too, including providing health care workers with one of the best-proven opportunities to get stress under control.

The scene was a large population of employees at a major medical center, where I served as employee wellness program manager, and partnered with our internal Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to offer the Yale Work and Family Stress Program. EAP counselors went to Yale to get trained on the program, and made a few adaptions suitable for our health care worker population. Continue reading »

Free e-book: Now We’re Talking! Transform Your Wellness Program With an All-Out Communication Strategy

in Communications, Uncategorized

Wellness Program communication e-book

There’s no need to be either frustrated or complacent with low engagement in whatever you offer employees. Download the free ebook, Now We’re Talking!, written by Jozito’s Bob Merberg and published by HES, to learn how it’s done.

It’s not just for walking clubs and smoking cessation programs. For example: Everyone’s talking about mental health, and lots of employers name EAP as their main mental health at work intervention. But EAP utilization is typically 4% or less (sadly, 7% is often considered good). When I oversaw EAP for an employer, utilization averaged between 14% and 18%… because, once we had excellent program pieces in place (integrating it with wellness, absence management, and other functions; implementing proactive EAP outreach to at-risk employees rather than just passively waiting to be contacted by those in crisis), we communicated about it: All the time. Everywhere.

Download the ebook and get started achieving the participation, engagement, and results you’ve always wanted.