Top three reasons employees use EAP

April 17, 2018

This piece is presented by Avera.

Numerous employers offer an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, as a benefit to address counseling needs of those who work for their company.

An EAP benefit communicates to employees that their employer cares about their well-being. Employees who take steps to deal with their problems are happier and more productive on the job.

So why do employees contact their EAP? Avera’s EAP program identified three top reasons:

  • Emotional distress: More than one-third of the calls – 36 percent – are to address challenges faced when people do not feel “emotionally OK.” These calls relate to anxiety, depression or some combination of these serious conditions.
  • Parenting concerns: 28 percent of calls come from parents who request support in facing a challenge with a child or children.
  • Relationship/couples issues: Couples who seek co-counseling make up 16 percent of Avera’s EAP service.

What employees will find when they call is that someone’s ready to help — confidentially, at no cost and with no ramifications to the worker whatsoever.

Employees are assured that their contact and participation with the EAP program remain confidential. Employers are not notified when their employees access the service, and EAP records are not part of an employee’s medical record.

“Our initial intake staffers will listen and assess the situation with the employee or their family member that calls, but that call will not be a counseling call,” said Rick Carlson, Avera Health EAP manager. “Sometimes there can be a solution during that first call, but most often we will refer the caller to a licensed counselor with our team.”

EAP recognizes its role as a solution center for short-term problem resolution. Employees are eligible for a certain number of no-cost visits with a counselor. If people seeking counseling need more care, the EAP team can refer them to an outpatient behavioral health therapist in coordination with the patient’s insurance.

No matter the outcome, Carlson said confidentiality is critical.

“We cannot tell a supervisor, or anyone really, that someone has called us or had a visit with us,” he said. “We keep our records separate from patient records, and we remind all our clients that we are not a part of a managed care approach.”

Aside from the top three issues, a number of other concerns represent the reasons behind employees’ calls.

“We help people with grief or loss issues, workplace conflicts and substance abuse,” Carlson said. “We remind those who have EAP coverage that it’s a substantial benefit, but one that too often is invisible. It can be especially helpful for couples because many insurance plans do not cover couples counseling programs.”

In addition to supporting employees and their families, EAP professionals also provide training to managers and supervisors on topics such as conflict resolution, violent or suicidal employees or substance abuse. Other EAP services to organizations include critical incident stress management services and executive coaching.

“It’s a confidential sounding-board service that can help a manager gain insight on approaches that may rectify the situation. We do not take direct action on their behalf, but we can coach and share our vast experience as professional counselors,” Carlson said. “We’re here to help.”

Whether employee or leader, the hope is that people who have access to EAP will use it, he said. In some ways, the service provides an avenue of help that many never consider – until they really need it.

“Utilization rates vary between 1 to 2 percent in some workforces to as high as 15 percent or more in others,” Carlson said. “Of course, the more an employer promotes the Employee Assistance Program to employees, the greater the utilization. Regardless of the issue, the EAP is expert at helping people connect with appropriate resources.”

To learn more about Avera EAP, visit Avera.org/eap or call 605-322-4069 or 800-527-9394.

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Top three reasons employees use EAP

Numerous employers offer an Employee Assistance Program as a benefit to address counseling needs of those who work for their company. Here are the top three reasons employees use it.

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