How to increase EAP utilization

How to increase EAP utilization

Employers and employees alike can benefit from Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). When used correctly and regularly, employee assistance program services can be instrumental in improving mental health, increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism, and even lowering the total cost of healthcare for organizations — but historically, low utilization rates have limited many employers from realizing the full potential and benefits of EAPs. On average, traditional EAPs have a utilization rate well below 10%, according to research from numerous studies, polls, surveys, and consultants. 

Increasing EAP utilization is crucial to ensure a positive impact on your organization and earn maximum ROI. How do you get more people to use the EAP benefits and services you offer? Fortunately, there are steps you can take. Keep reading to learn effective ways to improve EAP usage in your company. 

Understanding EAP utilization

We know that EAP utilization rates are generally low. Underutilization can be attributed to several factors that prevent employees from taking advantage of valuable services. To increase utilization, HR managers must understand the common obstacles and barriers keeping employees from getting the most out of an EAP. 

Barriers to EAP utilization

  • Lack of awareness: Many employees may not know about the existence or understand the benefits of their company’s EAP program.
  • Stigma: Mental health still carries a stigma in many workplaces, making some people hesitant to seek help through an EAP provider.
  • Inconvenience: Some more traditional EAPs require in-person visits during work hours, which can deter busy employees from using them.
  • Fear of confidentiality breaches: Employees may worry about privacy when accessing benefits like mental health services through employer-sponsored programs.

To boost your organization’s EAP utilization and support employee well-being, addressing these challenges should be a top priority for any HR manager. Partnering with an EAP service provider that offers flexible and confidential services — for example, online counseling or therapy for employees — can be an excellent first step. Increasing awareness and reducing barriers can help employees take advantage of your EAP’s valuable benefits.

8 Ways to boost EAP utilization

The following 8 strategies can boost any organization’s EAP usage, ultimately resulting in a healthier and more productive workplace. 

1. Emphasize EAP benefits in employee onboarding

Incorporating information on services into the onboarding process is incredibly effective for increasing utilization. New employees should know all company benefits and resources, including EAP programs. 

Ways to emphasize EAP during onboarding:

  • Introduce EAPs early: Mention your company’s employee assistance program during interviews, in offer letters, and throughout orientation or pre-employment communications.
  • Dedicate time for discussion: Allocate a specific session or portion of your onboarding process to discuss the details and advantages of using EAP services.
  • Provide clear information: Offer comprehensive materials outlining how employees can access and benefit from their EAP program — using brochures, flyers, or online resources can all be effective.
  • Showcase success stories: Share testimonials from current employees — with permission, of course — who’ve benefited from using your EAP services.

2. Break down stigmas

A significant barrier to EAP utilization is the stigma that often surrounds seeking help. To encourage use, creating a supportive work environment that fosters open conversations about mental health and other services is crucial. 

Ways to break down stigmas:

  • Host awareness events: Organize activities or workshops to promote understanding and educate employees on mental health issues.
  • Share testimonials: Encourage employees who’ve used and benefited from EAP services to share their experiences. Ask them to highlight how the EAP positively impacted their lives.
  • Create safe spaces for discussion: Establish regular forums where employees can openly discuss their challenges without fear of judgment or repercussions.

Incorporating mental health resources—through platforms like Talkspace—into your EAP program is a great way to help break down stigmas. Additionally, with its confidential online therapy platform, Talkspace makes accessing professional support more approachable, safe, and convenient for employees who might be hesitant to seek traditional face-to-face counseling.

3. Create a culture of wellness

Promoting a workplace culture of employee wellness within your organization goes hand-in-hand with increasing EAP utilization rates. By fostering an environment where employee well-being is prioritized, you demonstrate that your organization values physical and mental health needs. 

Ways to create a workplace culture of wellness:

  • Educate managers: Provide training on how to recognize signs of stress or employee burnout so it’s possible to address potential concerns before they escalate into larger personal problems.
  • Offer well-being initiatives: Implement programs to improve employee wellness, such as mindfulness workshops, exercise classes, or healthy eating initiatives to complement existing EAP services.
  • Maintain open communication channels: Encourage regular check-ins between managers and teams about workloads, stress levels, and job satisfaction. This will create opportunities for open dialogue around any challenges faced in balancing professional demands alongside personal responsibilities outside of work.

4. Communicate & promote it effectively

Effective communication plays a crucial role in increasing the EAP utilization rate. To ensure employees are aware of the available EAP services, you should promote them consistently and creatively. 

Tips on how to communicate EAP benefits:

  • Use multiple channels: Use various platforms for communication, like emails, intranet, posters, and team meetings, to reach all employees.
  • Create engaging content: Develop informative yet captivating materials highlighting the advantages of using your organization’s EAP.

For more tips, learn how to promote EAP to employees.

5. Involve leadership

Involving leadership is a critical step in increasing EAP utilization rates. Getting buy-in from managers and executives can instill confidence among employees, inspiring them to use the services offered. 

Here are some ways to involve leadership:

  • Education: Ensure HR leaders understand the benefits of EAPs by providing resources, including articles, webinars, or training sessions on how programs help.
  • Promotion: Encourage management to regularly mention EAP services during team meetings or one-on-one discussions with staff. This reminds employees about available assistance options while demonstrating that the EAP is a priority for company HR leaders.

6. Offer flexibility

Offering flexibility will help employees feel supported and less stressed about finding the time to use services. Make it clear that benefits can be accessed in various easily accessible ways. 

The following will ensure your EAP is flexible:

  • Flexible scheduling: Make sure employees can access EAP services at times that work best for them, including evenings and weekends when possible.
  • Diverse support options: Offer various types of assistance like counseling sessions, group therapy, or self-help materials.
  • Multilingual services: Ensure your EAP provider can accommodate non-English speaking employees by providing multilingual counselors or translation services.

7. Provide training and education

Training and education are essential in increasing EAP utilization. By educating employees about the benefits of your EAP program, you can help them understand the value and encourage them to take advantage of it. 

Here are some ways to train and educate your employees:

  • Organize instructional sessions: Host sessions on mental well-being, stress management, and work-life balance.
  • Create informative materials: Design and post or share creatives like brochures, posters, videos, or other digital content that explain what EAP services are available.
  • Distribute regular information: Send out newsletters with updates on new offerings within your EAP program.
  • Offer online resources: Put together and promote on-demand webinars or e-learning modules that employees can easily reference at their convenience. 

8. Continually measure and evaluate usage

Monitoring your EAP utilization will help you understand its effectiveness and identify potential areas for improvement. Regularly measuring and evaluating usage can help you make informed decisions about your program’s performance. 

Consider partnering with providers like Talkspace, who offer comprehensive reporting tools to track metrics easily.  

Here are some tips on how to assess your EAP:

  • Track key metrics: Monitor the number of employees accessing services, issues addressed, satisfaction rates, and overall utilization percentage.
  • Analyze trends: Look for patterns in data that may suggest barriers or opportunities for increasing program engagement.
  • Gather feedback: Conduct employee surveys or focus groups to get insights into their experiences with your EAP provider.
  • Benchmark against industry standards: Compare your organization’s performance with similar companies or industry averages to identify potential gaps in service offerings or promotional strategies.

Increase EAP usage with Talkspace

While recent research suggests that more than a third of employees in the United States (34%) are considering quitting their jobs, more than half (66%) say having access to mental health services could convince them to stay. Increasing EAP utilization is pivotal for organizations looking for ways to support employee mental health and general well-being. By understanding the reasons behind low EAP usage, HR managers can take steps to boost employee engagement with the program.

Effective communication, leadership involvement, service flexibility, and continual evaluation are all ways you can increase EAP utilization. Breaking down mental health stigmas and promoting the program during employee onboarding is equally important.

If you want to increase EAP usage within your organization, consider partnering with Talkspace. Talkspace’s online therapy platform offers accessible, confidential mental health support that fits busy schedules. Reach out for more information on how Talkspace can assist in upgrading the usage of your business’s EAP plan or how to set up an employee assistance program.


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