A new survey from TELUS Health has revealed that two-in-five workers (38%) in the U.S. are unfamiliar with the purpose of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)—also known as an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)—and what it offers. The Index also found that despite no cost to workers, 24 percent of those surveyed cite cost as a major barrier in using EAPs. Workers who reported being familiar with an EAP and what it offers had a higher mental health score than those who did not.
“Employee Assistance Programs provide a wealth of mental health resources and support for employees and their families, but the fact that 38 percent of workers don't understand the purpose of these programs creates a significant gap in utilization,” said Juggy Sihota, Chief Growth Officer, TELUS Health. “While EAPs have existed for a long time, we also cannot assume employees understand how to access or use them. Companies can demonstrate stronger support for their employees' wellbeing by offering a steady stream of education and information about EAPs to address this gap, to help drive utilization and to increase productivity.”
Lack of awareness. Underutilization of EAPs is directly linked to lack of awareness among employees:
- One third (33 percent) of workers are familiar with EAPs, while 29 percent have heard of them, but don’t know what they offer.
- Workers who know what an EAP is and what it offers have a mental health score four points higher (73.7) than workers who are not familiar with EAPs (69.7).
- Among workers who would not use or are uncertain if they would use an EAP, 34 percent do not know what it covers, 21 percent are concerned about confidentiality, and 20 percent do not know how to access the service.
- Workers who said they were concerned about cost have a mental health score of 62.9.
There is a significant disparity between workers’ perceptions of their access to benefits and the reality of the situation. Despite 62 percent of workers stating that they do not have access to an EAP, a survey conducted in 2023 by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans revealed that 81 percent of US employers were offering an EAP.
Affordability. Perceived affordability is also a barrier impacting workers’ access to support:
- The mental health scores of workers reporting affordability as a barrier to accessing mental health support is 24 points lower than workers reporting no barriers and 13 points below the national average.
- Workers under 40 are two times more likely than workers over 50 to have reported affordability as a barrier to accessing mental health support.
- Workers earning under $100,000 per year are 70 percent more likely to not use an EAP due to cost concerns than those earning over $100,000 per year.
From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2023 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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