How to review your EAP provider to ensure they are fit-for-purpose for your workplace

More and more employers are feeling that they need to review their current EAP program and this guide will help you do just that, providing you with a list of questions that will make sure that you have an employee wellbeing support system that is right for your modern workforce.

How to review your EAP provider to ensure they are fit-for-purpose for your workplace

More and more employers are feeling that they need to review their current EAP provider. Whether it’s just to check if it's still fit for purpose or if you’re thinking about changing providers, this guide will help you to evaluate how well yours is performing.

What is an EAP Provider?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a comprehensive and holistic workplace wellbeing programme. It is a voluntary and confidential service to support employees through any issues that affect their personal wellbeing and/or work performance.

EAP services are often used like the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Employees wait until things get really bad before using the EAP to see a counsellor for a limited number of employer-funded sessions.

However, there are problems with this approach. Staff may prefer to see a therapist outside of work, there may be a stigma associated with using EAP, and they may want to choose their therapist rather than having one randomly assigned.

Whatever the reason, on average only about 2% of employees reach out for support through their EAP.

Your EAP  should consider both the external and internal factors that may contribute to employee wellness.

External factors include:

  • Workplace culture and environment
  • High workload
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Conflict with manager or colleagues
  • Job security
  • A lack of adequate support or training
  • Different types of personal stressors – family, health, relationship, and financial
  • Traumatic previous experiences e.g. bullying    

Internal factors include:

  • Self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Personality
  • Unhelpful beliefs about oneself
  • Core values (and whether they align with the company's values)
  • Ability to manage negative thoughts and emotions
  • Pre-existing psychological conditions e.g. depression, anxiety etc.

What are the benefits of an EAP?

The benefits of an Employee Assistance Program extend to both the employee and the employer.

For employees:

  • Confidential and funded support from qualified mental health professionals
  • Help dealing with personal mental health or wellness challenges
  • The convenience of having therapy sessions conducted online or in person
  • Improved focus, inner satisfaction and performance at work
  • Better, more productive relationships at work
  • Access to financial advice from qualified financial advisors

For employers:

  • Increased staff productivity
  • Better employee engagement and motivation
  • Less presenteeism, absenteeism and sick leave
  • A flourishing and psychologically safe workplace culture that meets ISO45003 standards
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Increased collaboration and innovation
  • Greater ability to attract and retain top talent

Managers and people leaders are not trained to provide effective mental health and wellbeing support to employees, especially if you have a large, remote or distributed workforce.

Having a trusted EAP provider ensures therapy is a cost effective way to enhance employee wellbeing and performance. The ROI on EAP services ranges from 2:1 to 7:1 (Bajorek and Bevan, 2020)

Is it time to rethink your EAP provider?

To effectively evaluate your EAP provider, you need to be asking these questions:

How many employees actually use your EAP service?

Most EAP providers have a utilisation rate of 2-3%, which is significantly less than the 25% of the general population who will be experiencing mental health concerns at any given time.

Clearhead has a utilisation rate of between 20-30%. That’s 10 times more than traditional EAP providers.

Does your EAP provider offer proactive support for employees, before it becomes a crisis?

Many EAP schemes consist of therapy sessions alone. When an employee reaches out to engage the service, they only have three therapy sessions available to them.

However, by the time that person has reached a crisis point, they are likely experiencing severe stress and mental health issues. Reactive counselling of three sessions is usually not going to make enough impact to turn things around.

Clearhead is centred around providing proactive and personalised support. It helps employees build self-awareness and resilience skills so they are managing their wellbeing and have greater ability to avoid reaching that crisis point.

Clearhead offers a combination of personalised self-help tools as well as the ability to easily request a counselling appointment through our user-friendly online booking system.

Does your EAP provider offer a mix of mental health professionals?

Many EAP providers have a surprising lack of qualified, varied therapists. In fact, when you ask them, often less than 1% of their therapists are registered psychologists.

They also don’t tend to have therapists with a range of specialties, such as helping with addiction, or specific disorders or challenges.

Clearhead has a network of more than 400 mental health professionals and financial advisory professionals, and roughly 30% are registered psychologists. This helps to cover the broad spectrum of wellbeing needs.

Not only that, but Clearhead’s online booking system allows employees to browse therapists to find someone they like. Other schemes assign therapists based on availability, which severely impacts the chances of forming an effective, trusting relationship that really makes a difference.

Despite those considerable benefits, the average Clearhead counselling session costs roughly the same as most EAP providers. With Clearhead, you can be confident that your employees get access to the highest quality of support without blowing the budget.

What is the wait time to see a therapist with your EAP provider?

Therapy backlogs and waiting lists mean it can take weeks between booking therapy and actually seeing a counsellor through traditional EAP services. Considering they are often used as a last resort, this is a significant delay.

If staff don’t want to use the EAP service and opt to go through the public system, it can be even worse. Wait times tend to be around three months.

Clearhead has significantly shorter wait times for employees to receive professional support. Because Clearhead has such a large network of therapists, employees can be seen in days rather than weeks. Staff can filter therapists based on real time availability, which also increases the chance of being able to see someone quickly.

Not only that, but Clearhead’s digital wellbeing assistant provides on-demand triaging support, with personalised wellbeing advice and tools. Clearhead also provides on-site critical incident support within 24-48 hours of reach out.

Employees can both book an appointment directly on Clearhead's app or call us on our free helpline.

When is support available?

Many traditional EAP providers make support available during office hours only. Often, they have a number for employees to call, but that call will go unanswered outside set hours.

Clearhead makes support available at all times in a range of ways. The digital wellbeing assistant is available 24/7, and can recommend personalised coping tools or other techniques to help with the situation. It also has the ability to escalate support to crisis helplines if necessary.

During daylight hours, employees are able to talk to a therapist much quicker with Clearhead than through other means. Employees can see the real time availability of therapists, and filter searches based on counsellors that have immediate availability.

What has been the feedback from employees?

The best judge of how well your EAP is performing is the people it’s there to help - your staff. It’s important to get regular feedback, not only because it gives insight into team culture and wellbeing, but it shows if your investment in EAP is well spent.

In teams that use Clearhead as their EAP provider, 81% of employees say its tools are helpful for their challenges. 91% say the therapy they had through Clearhead was helpful.

We know this because we check in with every employee individually (and anonymously) after every interaction they have with either a self-help tool or a therapist. If they say a therapy session was unhelpful, Clearhead works with them to find a counsellor who is better suited to them and their challenges.

If your EAP provider doesn’t collate feedback from staff itself, you can ask managers whether they’ve heard any feedback from employees who’ve used it. Alternatively, you can send out a short, anonymous survey to all employees asking how useful they’ve found it.

Does your EAP provide employee wellbeing data analytics?

An EAP scheme is there to improve workplace wellbeing, and in order to showcase that’s happening it needs to report back with wellbeing data. This is a critical part of justifying your investment in EAP, but often reporting is either unhelpful or not done at all.

Many EAP providers will report back with how many counselling sessions have been delivered and what high level issues people are seeking therapy for. Reporting tends not to go into any more detail than that.

Clearhead provides a 20 page quarterly report from a clinical psychologist with an organisational psychology background.

Reports deeply analyse the causes for the employees distress (external factors), how they are coping and the impact it’s having on their work. It also assesses the underlying thoughts and beliefs (internal factors) that can point to a wider, underlying workplace culture and leadership challenge that could be addressed.

Does your EAP give you a clear indication of why extra sessions are requested?

EAP schemes generally provide three counselling sessions to employees at a time. Extra sessions may be made available, at the employer’s discretion. However, requests for additional counselling sessions often come with no background information, including what extra therapy will achieve.

Clearhead believes it’s important to be accountable and impactful in the service we deliver. When additional sessions are requested, that request comes with contextual information around what’s been achieved so far and what will be achieved with the additional sessions requested.

Requests are completely anonymous, with no identifiable information to protect the privacy of the individual employee.

When is your EAP contract up for renewal?

Most EAP contracts will be renewed annually, and it’s important to take the time to review the performance of your provider before recommitting. Some contracts will automatically roll over, unless communicated otherwise.

We recommend you keep a note of when your contract is up for renewal and use that as an opportunity to see if your EAP spend could be optimised.

If you feel your EAP provider is not performing as well as it could, then it might be time to see if Clearhead is a better option for you.

Book a free demo with Clearhead today

Clearhead vs Traditional EAP providers:

Clearhead provides holistic and proactive mental health and wellbeing support for workplaces that is so much more than just counselling.

We take an integrated approach of digital self-help resources, a 24/7 digital wellbeing assistant, a large network of specialist therapists with a modern, user friendly booking system and anonymised employee data analytics to give you better visibility on what's affecting your people.

Traditional EAP:

+ Tends to only be utilised by those already experiencing severe stress or anxiety

+ Require employees to access help by calling a phone number during set hours

+ Adoption rates around 2%

+ Wait times that tend to start from a few weeks

Clearhead:

+ Comes with self-help support tools and bite-sized content that encourages employees to proactively improve their wellbeing.

+ Gives employees the choice, convenience and control of being able to book therapy themselves with whoever they like. This improves the chances of a good therapeutic relationship and positive clinical outcome.

+ Reaches at least 10 times more employees than traditional EAPs

+ Wait times that average days, not weeks

+ Therapy sessions that 98% of users say are helpful in solving their problems

+ Provides monthly free webinars and wellbeing sessions on topical issues for employees

+ Includes a mobile app that regularly prompts employees to check in with themselves and build life-long resilience and coping skills

Think of us as the extra pair of hands that’s dedicated to improving the mental health of your people. We work alongside clients and walk alongside employees, guiding them through their own wellbeing journey and building resilience in both individuals and whole organisations.

If you’re interested in a modern day employee wellness solution for your organisation, check out a free, no strings attached, Clearhead demo.

Book a free demo today