Thursday, April 28, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #20: Make and Rotate New EAP Posters Every Six Weeks

Increasing EAP utilization is about visibility, promotion, and efforts you take to keep your program "top of mind." This means employees develop reflexes for thinking about the EAP as a "fix" for their problems. When people are in pain, they think of resolving that pain. If your EAP offers solutions  that employees can connect to their problems, they will phone. This is why you should be specific about the solutions you offer and link them to specific problems in promotion in your promotional efforts. Also, the magic is to never to underplay the importance of mentioning confidentiality in every communication. You are always marketing confidentiality because there are always forces real and imaginary that are marketing against confidentiality. One promotional technique that doesn't get enough appreciation is EAP posters. This is why I distribute a free EAP poster periodically. Three things make EAP posters work: 1) Relevance to the work culture (that means you must create them with a relevant message. Fun and easy.; 2) Rotate them or post new ones every six weeks. Six weeks is the magic number I came up with where I believe things like posters and flyers of any sort become invisible to those who have seen them 11-12 times; And 3) Problem specific. This means creating a poster that focuses on something like "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "Teens and Drug Abuse" rather than the general as in this bad example: "When Times are Tough, the Tough Get Going to the EAP" (gag me). Okay, now you know about EAP Poster Technology.

Monday, April 18, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #21: Do EAP Refresher Training with Supervisors

Many good employee assistance programs have closed down, consolidated, or been turned into 800 hotlines over the past several years. Will it happen to you?

Many of these solid EAPs lost the battle to stay open even while they were pointing to lives saved as a result of their services.

Over the years, I have identified a few contributing factors to this sort of tragedy. The leading factor that stands out is a lack of difficult employees referred by supervisors as the only way they could have possibly gotten help--under duress, with the leverage of job security motivating their choice to use the EAP, and then following through with recommendations given to them.

That's it in a nutshell.

You see, self-referrals are a good thing, but telling top management that they would never have used an 800# hotline--only your EAP--to get help is not going to be believed. If you use this line, then I can guarantee that you will soon be putting your office plants in a cardboard box.

Supervisor referrals of the most at-risk troubled employees, however, are completely different story.

The most difficult and problematic employees don't use an 800 hotline. Their level of denial and over-adaptive use of defense mechanisms preclude self-motivation and insight.

Instead, these employees reach the EAP because of constructive confrontation by managers, often where declining the formal supervisor EAP referral means termination for performance issue. This constructive coercion (which is really what it is) is the dynamic that saves lives. This is leverage.

You can increase the number of these valuable supervisor referrals, and it may help you not become a statistic. Click here to see two products to grow your EAP utilization with formal supervisor referrals.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Blog Note Update: EAPs and Emergency Room Relationships

I was talking the other day about improving EAP utilization and helping more employees with substance abuse problems by developing relationships with local emergency rooms--- and letting them know that you can do follow up work with patients who are eligible for EAP services at companies where you happen to provide EAP services internally or externally as an EAP vendor. Well, I got a press release today about something similar. I thought you'd like to see it. It dovetails into my earlier post on this subject but addresses intervening with people in the Emergency Departments by screening them for suicidal ideation and recent attempts, or indeed the primary reason for their current visit associated with a failed attempt. Recent research called sought to examine whether universal suicide risk screening is feasible and effective at improving suicide risk detection in the emergency department (ED). The findings were positive. The researchers do not have a recommendation along the lines of be sure to "Ask the patient whether we can have your EAP contact you confidentially and follow up," but I can say it here--get this going. Universal suicide risk screening in ERs is feasible and it leads to a nearly twofold increase in risk detection--and I am postulating that along with EAP involvement, even fewer deaths ultimately will be prevented.  If these findings remain true when scaled, the public health impact could be tremendous, because identification of risk is the first and necessary step for preventing suicide. Do you have our latest brochure with the free download link? -- check it out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #22: Get an EAP Newsletter and Distribute It Monthly--NOT Quarterly

You may have heard me say this before but a quarterly EAP newsletter is a sheepish frequency. You won't see much impact from a quarterly newsletter, because typically they are four pages with lengthy content that don't get full read, and frequency is not going to deliver the top of mind visibility you need to stay in front of employees and have them remember you when personal problems arise. So, get a monthly publication of some sort. Here is a popular method with EAPs who get enormous impact:

Employee newsletters Make an Employee Newsletter

Monday, March 21, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #23: Create a Video to Orient Employees and Family Members

If you don't have an EAP orientation video on your Web site because it sounds too expensive or complicated, let me give you the story on doing this simply.

You can create such a video yourself--more useful and effective than a Hollywood movie--with professional narration that discusses the use of your program. You make it from a PowerPoint.
This is very easy to do and it can look stupendously professional.

You may have everything in-house to do this yourself already, but using an organization like, you can find 3-4 professionals, each with their own skills to piece together such a project for about $300-$500. Such a video will also help you compete in EAP proposals and in responding to RFPs because it will drive EAP utilization up, thereby reducing behavioral risk from at-risk employees.

Here are the steps:

1) Create your script. Make it about 15 slides. Plan 25-30 words (no more per slide.) Brainstorm with staff what will be in this PowerPoint. This entire move will last about 4-5 minutes.

2) Get a professional voice to create 15 mp3s from the scripts above. This will cost you about $25-$50.

3) Get a PowerPoint expert to create the slides with professional graphics. This will cost about $150-200. You can make awesome professional PowerPoints yourself by visiting and copying the techniques you see. Easy peasy. 

4) Get another PowerPoint person to sync the words with the images, and with the voice files that are inserted as sound objects using PowerPoint. This will cost about $50. If you understand PowerPoint, you can do this yourself.

5) Create a video from the PowerPoint Show using a software program like Wondershare or PresentationPro to turn the PowerPoint into a video. This software is about $200, but well worth it. You will use this in the future like crazy for other videos you can make.

Your done!!

Now you have something you can show in an auditorium with a laptop, put on the web, or put in a DVD. The real value of your video is reaching family members and otherwise unreachable employees who are not familiar with your EAP (yet). You can also email the video link anywhere.

The ability to work with family members is part of the historical purpose of EAPs. It is also part of the EAP standards. Managed care EAPs play this down, don't promote it, or avoid it altogether. Don't let this be you.

Use to create a custom link to your video that is easily remembered. Try something like, etc. Put in the emails, in your EAP newsletter, on business cards, an on EAP posters.

The above could skyrocket your EAP utilization. To see an examples of EAP orientation or "what the EAP can do for you" PowerPoint and Video, visit the preview page at

#EAP #employee assistance programs

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Improving EAP Utilization Hack #24: Engage Hospital Emergency Rooms to Refer Employees

If you could sit in an emergency room for a week, you would discover that about 3.5% of admissions would be alcohol-use/abuse/ism related and diagnosed upon admission by the ER docs.

There are many more patient admissions to hospitals that are in some way related to addictive disease, but are not necessarily treated or addressed. Many are ignored. In this case above, I am talking about obvious injury or health problems attributed to alcohol use/abuse. 

Many of these patients are in an acute state of remorse--a crisis exists--and the opportunity to successfully motivate them to enter treatment is high. A referral for help is easier than it will be tomorrow. As a bonus, a family member or concerned friend often accompanies these patients, and they add leverage and influence in the referral process.

If an ER patient is an employee of a company that your EAP serves, an eventual referral of the patient to your EAP by the ER staff during the ER visit could be a way to boost EAP utilization and your alcohol-related stats--the most precious kind.

The key is having the medical staff AND the social workers in the hospital know that you are available via referral--and having them remember your EAP. It's tricky. They should also be encouraged to have the patient phone the EAP at the ER (24/7 if need be) and leave a message for you to get back to them. In other words, this ball should start rolling immediately. The patient should not be sent out the door with just an EAP business card or number on a post-it note. You can kiss this sort of referral good-bye.

ERs will love you for this help because hospitals must refer patients to appropriate resources in the community, and why not have this be you? You can help them avoid the time-consuming brokering role by making yourself available, do an assessment, and motivate the patient/client to accept an appropriate level of care.

You need to create a communication system to help ensure a busy 3-shift, high turnover ER department remembers you. I can't say I know exactly how to do this, but I have ideas. I have walked the walk on this post by the way, but I did not have the communication piece right. If I attempted this again, I would simply send a monthly newsletter like Frontline Employee with a message or specially not on it after doing an inservice that provide CEU/CME credit.

Think about this EAP utilization hack #24. Make it work, and you may increase the relevance of your EAP, save more lives, and keep your program from becoming MCD'd (Managed Care Demised)

*Source: Page 20-22 of

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #25: Educate Employees with a Family Empowerment Model of Alcoholism Intervention

I phoned the National Association of Social Workers about 20 years ago and spoke with the General Counsel (top dog attorney) about doing interventions using the traditional Johnson Institute approach (the approach where a counselor sits and "lightly guides" a family in confronting a practicing alcoholic to motivate them to enter treatment using a planned meeting that does not include the alcoholic knowing its true purpose.)

The advice was: It's unethical.

Why!? The lawyer said at the time that it violates client self-determination principles because the alcoholic family member is unaware of the true nature of a surprise family meeting. This could get a licensed professional in the helping professions sued. Working for a hospital at the time, I decided upon a different route (you know how paranoid hospitals are) and developed a "Family Empowerment Model" as I called it. It was also an adaptation from Scott McMillan's work and Ron Rogers work with inpatient alcoholics and their incredible writings on addictive disease. The gist: Using influence and leverage that naturally exists in relationships can help family members be successful in conducting interventions with affected loved ones. The upside of the Family Empowerment Model is teaching others to do interventions more easily, being able to teach more people faster, and reducing risk to the intervention specialist who does not meet with the alcoholic at all. The other upside is teaching intervention skills and allowing the family members to make a paradigm shift to seeing the alcoholic as responsible for treatment and getting effective help, making it non-negotiable, giving up on making addict responsible for the illness. Once this shift is made, which must be routed in education about addictive disease and its bio-genic nature, then all family members become unified, as a runaway train to get the alcoholic enter treatment--and insist so strongly, that they use every incidental crisis that follows any failed attempt--to do it again and again until they are successful. Have you noticed after 50 year,s how few JI traditional "family interventionists" are in your community? I bet you can't name more than one or two, if any at all. Why? If the JI model is so effective, how come there aren't dozens of mental health professionals in every town practicing it? One reason: It's hell. This approach is stressful, time consuming, risky, and costly. It requires an inordinate amount of time and it is not reality based. Why? Simply put, 99% of drug and alcoholism treatment admissions to hospitals occur as a result of family members saying and doing, accidentally on purpose, what worked to motivate the alcoholic or drug addict to enter treatment. They used leverage (the power of resources possessed by one or more persons in the relationship with the addict) and influence (the weight of the relationship's value and what it truly means to the addict) as the key drivers or tools to motivating the alcoholic to enter treatment. If you made it this far in this post, here is what I want to say to EAPs: Teach this stuff to employee clients to boost your EAP utilization.

#family intervention  #alcoholism intervention