In the last month, I’ve had many conversations with People, Culture and HR leaders who are lamenting the fact that EAP usage is low. There are two things that come from this. Firstly, those who are HEAL clients are curious why their wellness program gets so much more engagement than their EAP; secondly, those who are not yet HEAL clients hesitate to sign on for a wellness program if their EAP isn’t getting strong uptake. This begs the question, why is your EAP usage low if wellness program engagement is high?
There are a few reasons why EAP usage could be low. First of all, it could be a lack of awareness of what’s available. Despite you sending multiple emails out and providing all the information, it still seems like a topic that employees put off learning about. Next is that EAPs are sometimes thought of as useful during a crisis. While EAP information can absolutely be preventative, in chatting with some employees, they have made comments that they would absolutely use it if the need arose, but nothing critical is going on at the moment for them.
We recently launched a wellness program with a new client, and the client was blown away by the fact that they had 3x the registration (and subsequent participation) than they expected. One of the reasons for this is that we garner a lot of excitement around the start of the program. We typically launch the program with a team-based wellness challenge, which creates a lot of excitement and buzz around the organization. This also includes a short, live kickoff event to explain the details of the program and answer any questions that arise.
Given the team-building nature of our programs, most employees sign up as a team, which also in and of itself builds participation and excitement. The fact that the program is primarily team-based not only holds participants accountable and keep engagement levels high throughout the program, but also helps build momentum and awareness about the program in the first place.
Wellness programs are inherently seen as preventative, and there’s often something for everyone, regardless of your current nutrition, fitness or mental health status. This can motivate employees to sign up and participate as it’s not as specific in nature as seeing a counsellor for a specific problem as part of an EAP program, for example.
As much of our content and programming is customizable, one way we help increase EAP usage is to link in mentions and offerings that are available through the EAP program into our wellness programs. For example, if we have a challenge that day around mental health, we may mention other mental health support available to the employee through their EAP program, with links.