I was getting ready for our big annual Open Enrollment Benefits Fair, so I called our EAP. Thought I could use a little therapy getting through the big event, especially since I anticipated a ton of questions from unhappy, horrified employees regarding the state of their 403(b)'s. (That's a non-profit version of a 401(K) for all you non non-profiteers out there.
I did call but not for myself. I just needed like...some...information. Like, does the phone number on this card really work? Is the password viable? Does the website do what it says? Are we really entitled to four (that's 4) visits a year with a therapist for any issue (like it says on the card) or is it really three (that's 3) visits like it says on some really out-of-date benefits material.
Had a nice long chat with the guy on the other end of the line and wow I was feeling better already. It's great when a clinically trained psychological person answers the telephone and proceeds to speak with you in a professional, articulate, courteous manner.
Here's my question: Does anyone really use the EAP? I thought I'd find out.
I asked for but couldn't get any utilization reports for my own organization because we have an EMBEDDED Plan, which sounds like it might actually BE a reason to call the EAP. According to Gus Steiber of Bensinger,Dupont and Associates, over the last five (5) years the Embedded Services trend has changed so that now all top ten (10) LTD companies have some version of an embedded plan. Embedded simply means that the plan only offers employee services (the usual mental health, legal and financial services, etc.) but does not offer employer services, so no fancy stuff like utilization reports, brochures, wallet cards, marketing material, supervisory services and full-range work/life services. An embedded plan makes sense however since it focuses efforts first and foremost on your employees without costing the employer anything extra.
I asked Gus if usage was up lately. Yes, it is. Between the last 10 months of this year compared to the last 10 months of last year, total EAP cases have shown a 14.6% overall increase with Mental Health Services increased by 22.3% and Legal Services increased by 21.5%.
This is good news, in a way. It means that employees are embracing this benefit and utilizing it for their own welfare, which is ultimately going to reduce injury, employee stress, workers' comp claims, workplace violence and may also get some folks into addiction recovery sooner rather than later. All and all a win-win benefit for both employer and employee.