Why Employee Assistance Programs fail?

Why Employee Assistance Programs fail?

Employee Assistance Programs are evolving!

From an interventional way, with the objective of solving the problems of employees, they evolve to prevention.

The prevention of the employee’s mental health as well as their general well-being became on the agenda of the Employee Assistance Programs.

Employee Wellness program allow employees and their families to have access, confidentially, to professional counselors who can support them on a variety of issues related to mental health (such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder), substance abuse, domestic abuse, workplace problems, and challenges that occur in their daily lives or in the lives of family members.

How successful is your Employee Assistance Programs? How many employees participate in the activities? How many use the support that is made available?

Can you find that the result is far from what you set at the beginning? Why?

Several may be the reasons! Below, we’ll cover some that may help you understand what you might be missing and redefine your Employee Assistance Programs.

Senior Management little involved and committed

If CEO/president of an organization supports an initiative and defends it, it has a better chance of success. Senior Management involvement is crucial to Employee Assistance Programs success. They set the example ant it will, certainly, be followed. Through their active participation they are transmitting the program’s confidentiality. The concern they demonstrate through participation will be felt by the organization.

Little employee involvement

Defining and implementing a Employee Assistance Program does not mean that employees will embrace it. A robust welfare communication program must be built and implemented.

Sometimes employees may be aware of the Employee Assistance Program existence but are not aware of the many benefits available.

Permanent communication must exist through creative and frequent messages in various media. They help to maintain the knowledge and attract people when the time is right.

The participation of Senior Management, in this communication, assumes a relevant role because it transmits credibility to the program.

Too much focus on activities

The goal should be to build a culture of health and well-being in your organization and support employees in the prevention of potential problems.

Some Employee Assistance Programs focus on engagement activities forgetting to include action to promote employee well-being.

Employee Assistance Programs should include sustainable and multifaceted activities focusing on health awareness. They should give employees a range of tools to help them achieve their own personal health and general well-being goals.

Activities and challenges can be a component, but coaching, webinars, health information, stress reduction, mental health programs, substance abuse counseling, smoking cessation, and health risk assessments are also important.

Existence of incentives

Welfare incentives are positive and can be a powerful tool for strengthening engagement.

Incentives can be in different ways: recognition; the provision of a good; financial.


Make sure that the criteria for attribution are inclusive so that they do not inadvertently discriminate anyone.

Make sure that they are appallable and easily explainable in order to ensure the suitability of the program.

“One-size fits all”

When defining actions and activities take into account differences in your organization. Not all employees liked the same.

This is a reality with a greater focus on multicultural organizations. Some of the Employee Assistance Programs fail on this issue. They tend to generalize activities to all employees and sometimes are not inclusive.

Remember, we don’t have, all, the same ideas. Some people like to socialize in groups; others like privacy and little exposure; some people like the help and guidance of coaches, mentors and peers; others like to have the tools to go at their own pace.

Ensure that your program has a wide variety of options in actions and activities to respond to the many “likes” and preferences of your Employees.

Lack of feedback

Is there a wellness and wellbeing committee to get feedback, set goals and support planning and promoting activities?

Participation fosters a sense of belonging and helps motivate employees to achieve personal and organizational goals.

Employees should be encouraged to share ideas that foster well-being, safety and health for themselves and others. While a top-down commitment is essential, a peer-to-peer approach, such as the wellness and wellbeing committee, can be one to power help.

Privacity and confidentiality

Employees value their privacy by feeling uncomfortable sharing personal information with their employer for fear that it could affect their job security.

This situation is more important when it comes to medical or health information. Many employees fear that if their employer knows they have a health condition, it could affect their health benefits or be discriminated against.

Ensuring privacy and confidentiality by clarifying that any information provided will be kept confidential and not shared, will alleviate these fears. Senior Management has a high-importance role at this stage “giving the face” in this communication.

There are several Employee Assistance Programs that have failed to ensure confidentiality leading to non-employee participation.

Limited accessibility.

Can your employees access Employee Assistance Programs, tools and activities through a wellness portal and a wellness application? Are activities only available during working hours, or are some activities available on the work premises? During the working hours, rest time, lunch time and post-work hours? Do employees know that they can access activities during working hours?

Setting objectives

There are many advantages of an Employee Assistance Program:

– Retaining employees
– Motivate workers
– Increase general health of employees and their well-being;
– Absenteeism and presentism reduction
– Stress reduction

Get support from an experience partner

Through the implementation of an Employee Assistance Program organizations will be helping their employees to have a stable mental health and self-knowledge.

These programs, when well structured, include different actions that cover different areas in order to provide employees with tools for their well-being.

We can identify some themes that these programs cover: how to deal with stress, anxiety, tools to deal with stress, conflict management and relationships, emotiona lintelligence, how to communicate, counseling, among others, that support employees.

It is important to note that an Employee Assistance Program should be adapted to each organization and its culture. Only in this way will you be able to respond to the needs of your employees.

And how do organizations have the return on investment they make? Through:

– Increased productivity
– Reduced recruitment costs
– Increased employee branding
– Employee engagement
– Reduction of internal conflicts
– A good working environment

It’s important to get support from a partner that has experience in designing and implementing these programs to avoid errors and maximize the return. Why should we event the wheel when it’s was already discovered?

Have a great Employee Assistance Program

Nuno Finisterra

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