Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have now been around for more than eight decades, but the past three years have tested EAPs like never before, demonstrating the immense need for programs that support workers’ well-being while highlighting areas where solutions fall short.
“Overstretched” is the term used frequently to describe EAPs today. Even the Employee Assistance Professional Association (EAPA) admits that EAPs were not designed to be the one-size-fits all solution for well-being and rising mental health challenges across the global workforce.
The majority of EAPs not only limit the number of sessions an employee can access, but are hampered by a finite number of in-network providers with increasingly long wait lists. In addition, EAPs are rarely equipped to sustainably tackle employee challenges around housing, financial and personal security challenges (“social determinants of health”) which have substantial and well-documented impacts on mental health and well-being.
It is important to note that in 2023, well-being benefits are a critical component of any genuine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) effort, raising scrutiny on EAPs and demanding more evidence of impact. Luckily for employers, innovative solutions exist that can augment, enhance or fill the gaps present in EAP products.
Services like WorkLife’s Resource Navigator benefit are increasingly used alongside (or in place of) EAPs to provide in-depth, personalized assistance to workers navigating complex work/life challenges. Resource Navigators specialize in addressing the social determinants of well-being and services are always provided in-house, avoiding lag time due to referrals or insurance complications. Workers get the help they need immediately.
Our own work demonstrates that workers do best when they have access to:
Well-being, including mental health, is affected by the complex interaction of physical, social, financial, mental and professional factors. When employees access WorkLife’s Resource and Health Benefit Navigators, more often than not housing insecurity, family responsibilities and debt burdens are contributing to physical and mental health burdens.
Given the complicated interplay of factors, we believe the most effective well-being services are not only personalized, but unhurried. Our Resource and Health Benefits Navigators take the time to build trust with each employee and gain a full understanding of their unique life circumstances. Our Navigators are accessible over time to work alongside employees, troubleshooting problems that are rarely solved with a single referral or session.
We’ve seen and embraced the potential of online counseling, financial wellness apps, and virtual wellness sessions, but we know from first hand experience that local-level resources and opportunities for in-person sessions matter when addressing well-being.
Our Resource and Health Navigators specialize in building partnerships with community-based organizations wherever we work. Navigators know which childcare providers offer sliding-scale fees, which mechanics offer low-cost repairs and which healthcare providers are accessible during evening and weekend hours.
Local services and programs can offer sustained support to workers within their own communities, but local context and understanding are rarely integrated into workplace well-being solutions. When a business has a geographically dispersed workforce, offering a “local” approach within a “global” well-being program is especially important.
As the only well-being solution of its kind, WorkLife combines this community knowledge with quick access to Navigators via virtual meetings, phone calls or in-person sessions. Unlike many virtual-only solutions, we prioritize meeting people however and wherever they feel most comfortable. Prefer coffee shop sessions? We have you covered!
Empowerment is a key contributor to well-being and mental health, yet few well-being solutions foster a worker’s ability to solve future problems, missing a valuable opportunity to increase underlying confidence and skills. WorkLife Navigators, in contrast, focus on building skills and a knowledge base (including awareness of local-level resources) with each person they serve.
Whether the skill involves creating a household budget, negotiating with landlords, or crafting a professional development plan, Navigators take the time to teach, guide and support rather than simply doing the work for someone. And the approach works: Return on Investment studies have shown that workers who engage with a WorkLife Navigator have increased confidence levels.
While EAPs continue to rely on utilization data to justify their cost, WorkLife offers employers data to spark insight on DEI efforts, recruitment and retention strategies and workplace culture through aggregate user data, survey results, and focus groups. Worklife’s longstanding commitment to quality impact reporting reflects our belief in continual improvement and the importance of value to employer and employee alike.
Want to learn more? Contact us.