Choosing the right Employee Assistance Programme.

Selecting the right Employee Assistance Programme for your workplace should not be taken lightly.

The Employee Assistance Programme has proven to be a provision that employees find increasingly helpful. Investigations shows that good EAPs have a positive impact on employee productivity and employee benefit costs in general.

Your organisation may already have an EAP in place or, as an employer, you’re considering this service. Whichever may be the case, knowing the characteristics of the ideal EAP for employees at your organisation can help you to improve the one you already have in place or choose the right one in the future.

The truth is, there is no one single good type of EAP. The choice of an ideal Employee Assistance Programme for your company revolves around several characteristics that vary through different types of EAPs and how they suit your organisation’s needs. Let’s consider a few of the critical characteristics that you may want to look into.

Types of EAP services.

The four main types of Employee Assistance Programme services are for:

-Individuals
-Managers
-Organisation
-Administrative

The most common EAP services are those delivered to individual employees and their covered family members. Usually, this service includes individual assessment and referral with problem-focused counselling. However, a comprehensive EAP also provides support to management and consultation regarding employee, organisational and management health and performance. It might be that your company does not need all these services and in fact, not all EAPs offer such a range of services. The mix of these services also depends on the delivery model of the Employee Assistance Programme.

Delivery models.

There are different management models for EAPs:

-Internal
-External
-Blended

These services are provided by professionals within the organisation, outside the organisation or a combination of both. Your choice needs to be based on the extent to which the program will integrate with the company and your employees.

Internal Programmes naturally have a high on-site presence thereby allowing walk-in contact between employees and counsellors. Use of EAP for management consultations and organisational services is also higher for the internal model. Promotion of the EAP is also more evident through various events, presence on the company’s own intranet and communication channels with other departments and programs.

External Programmes are delivered by a vendor separate from the organisation and usually have a variable on-site presence which is usually lower than internal programmes. Phone-based counselling may be more emphasised in this program. Promotion of the EAP would be relatively lower or moderate with limited local events within the company and multiple mailings.

Blended Programmes primarily involve affiliate counsellors employed by the external EAP provider who conducts their activities through the internal EAP staff that is employed by the organisation itself.

Quality of services.

When you make the decision to implement an Employee Assistance Programme, it’s a substantial investment. You want to make sure the programme follows what is considered the core functions of delivering an EAP:

Work-Performance Focus
The primary goal of an EAP counsellor is to understand how a problem is affecting the employee’s ability to function at work. Due to this, when the service is evaluated, focus on the changes in employee work performance.

Manager Awareness
It is important that the EAP staff work closely with the company to train managers on how to engage the EAP. The proximity with the company is also important for the EAP staff to understand what issues are of higher or lower relevance to the company.

Internal & External Resources
The ability of the EAP to refer to resources within the company and outside to help the employee is crucial to the effectiveness of the program. Employees want to know where to go and what to do. The EAP has the responsibility of providing this information in a tailored fashion based on the nature of the employee’s problem and circumstances. Make sure your EAP has a current and accurate database of resources.

Of course, these are just three of the several important characteristics you want to consider when evaluating the EAP you have in place already or are thinking of implementing. Other aspects include pricing options, utilisation and professionalism.

As an employer, you want your investment in an EAP to be effective at the highest rate. The best way to do that is to constantly evaluate how the program is functioning and if it is the right fit for the needs of your company. Your employees will appreciate your efforts to provide the best kind of help.