1. Market the EAP effectively to employees
The provider should give you a clear implementation plan, with pre-promotional planning, and talk to you about how they will go about implementing the first phase.
Ensure the service is widely launched, then advertised via the most appropriate medium for the workforce – posters, email, intranet, podcast, webinar.
Also make sure that you have buy-in from top management and that all managers are aware of the service and its benefits, and communicate this to employees when needed.
2. Make sure you get feedback and support from the EAP provider
A provider should offer:
- 24/7 telephone support and information.
- Management support to assist managers to deal with specific situations; critical incident support for the organisation and its employees when faced with unpleasant and traumatic workplace incidents.
- Statistical data – management reports which will typically show patterns of usage, hot issues and departmental or geographical variations, enabling service adjustment if needed.
3. Assess the value of the EAP to the employer and to employees
The first step, as discussed above, is to determine exactly why you are buying an EAP, the second step is to establish a data recording system that will measure the EAP against your purchasing intent.
Set up SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-based) service level agreements at the outset of the contract, and conduct regular performance reviews with your provider.
Ask for three and six monthly updates. Find out what other data they can produce. Stress that you want to measure this as an investment.
Objective measures to assess the EAP
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) absence management annual survey provides a clear indication of the impact of absence on your organisational running costs.
CORE (Clinical Outcome Routine Evaluation) is the most widely used tool for measuring the effectiveness of counselling. Individual user feedback based on structured questions can be a valuable aide in evaluating the impact of the service on the workforce.
Some organisations include questions about the EAP in their annual staff survey and this can provide evidence of return on investment (ROI) in a number of ways, depending on the way the questions are posed.
One of the mistakes in measuring ROI is to simply ask how many people use the service. The real ROI is the difference the service makes to your organisation and this may be qualitative rather than quantitative.
(With thanks to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association and Right Corecare.)