You’ve done everything right. You’ve learned how much a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help the people in your company. You know happier, healthier employees are more productive. You helped put together a quality EAP. And, after reading our article on building a more effective EAP, you’ve taken the time and energy to introduce the full spectrum of EAP services to your employees.

Now what?

The biggest challenge for any company offering an EAP (or any other employee wellness program) is getting employees to take advantage of the features when they need them. Employees have the information, but do they actually know what to do – or, more importantly, who in your organization to turn to – in case of a health or behavioral crisis? In most companies, apparently, the answer is no.

The research raises an issue

The Standard is a leading provider of insurance and other financial products, and they recently commissioned research on the link between employee disability issues and employee productivity.

When employees were asked who they turn to in their company when they needed assistance, the answers weren’t as consistent as any of us would like.

In companies with 100 – 499 employees:

  • 44% went to their HR manager
  • 33% went to their direct supervisor
  • 18% went to both their HR manager and direct supervisor
  • 5% went elsewhere

To make things less clear, according to The Standard research, the size of the organization changed the results substantially. In organizations of 10 – 99 employees, as well as those with 2,500 or more, the direct supervisor was noted by employees as the dominant go-to.

This tells us that many companies – companies of all sizes – aren’t communicating or delegating a clear process or point of contact for employees when it comes to actually needing help. This confusion may be keeping some employees from getting the help they need. It could also lead to an overall negative experience or, even, a decrease in productivity.

For behavioral or mental health issues, since employees are already more reluctant to seek help in those areas versus a physical issue (see our article on removing the stigma of mental health), the confusion and negative effects may be even greater.

The research also provides the answer

Based on the research, employees that go to their HR manager first tend to have a more positive experience.

  • 73% of employees who worked with their HR manager felt they knew how to provide the right support.
  • 67% felt more valuable to the organization.
  • 73% felt more productive after the experience.

On the other hand, going to their direct supervisor brought up other issues.

  • 54% of employees felt uncomfortable discussing their health condition with their direct supervisor.
  • 60% said working with a direct supervisor made them concerned about losing their job.

HR managers were shown to be more able to help employees in other ways. In general, they are usually more aware of available resources, including EAP services, which is helpful to any employee seeking help. Here are our last statistics from The Standard supporting the HR manager as the choice for EAP manager – the EAP go-to – in any size company.

  • When working with HR, employees were more likely to receive helpful communications.
  • 44% of employees working with an HR manager returned to work faster than when they worked with a direct supervisor.

What’s in it for the HR manager?

Not only are HR managers in the best position to help employees with a physical, mental or behavior issue, they can also help them in terms of the importance of their job and taking more pride in their work. According to an article from Human Resources MBA, an online guide for exploring and picking the best HR degree programs, “An HR manager who takes on the role of EAP manager is responsible for promoting the health and welfare of an organization’s most important assets.”

For more information on EAP development and management in your company, call Espyr at 888-570-3749 or go to espyr.com.