Tuesday, April 12, 2011

EAP Marketing Tips: 1 of 10: Talk about Risk Reduction More Deeply

I am going to discuss marketing related issues for EAP providers. Many have complained about low balling, managed care, and "commodization". Commodization is not a problem by the way. It is a symptom of the problem. That problem is lack of definition and codification about what EAPs really are, what they should be, and how they ought to be defined by a nationally recognized organization that both promotes and protects the parameters of the EAP program definition so corporate customers and potential purchasers pull away and are less likely to be attracted to inferior, well marketed knock-offs. (Okay that was a little rough, but this is a blog.)

Back on point. The issue in in free markets is usually also about having a better product and the ability to communicate that. I think a piece of the problem lies here. The problem it seems to me is that EA professionals don't really know their own product very well. Let's discuss this over the next couple weeks and see if my notes transcribed to this blog from the jotted scratches on gum wrappers I possess can assist you with additional insights that will make you better prepared to discuss your program and better able to standou in a crowd because you are able to define a better product.

Issue #1 of 10 for Marketing Discussions with Potential Purchasers of EAP Services:
With the increasing risk to employers of being sued by employees, how does the EAP play a role in reducing this risk beyond simply seeing employees referred for personal problems?

Because CT-EAPs (the CT stands for true core technology-driven programs. Since anyone can call themselves an EAP and get away with it handily, I often like to write "CT-EAP".) deal with troubled employees, many of whom have problems with management, they are frequently the first to learn of an employee’s interest or intention to sue the company. For example, my supervisor did such and such, I am angry, I wonder if I can sue. Such statements, if handled properly, make the EAP an early, front line defense against employment claims and related lawsuits. EA professionals help employees seek solutions to personal problems and will steer employees to more constructive alternatives to meet their needs. In many instances this is accomplished by referring them to human resources, providing conflict resolution assistance, or seeking other alternative dispute resolution channels. Although not researched, EAPs certainly save money by helping ward off lawsuits long before they ever are filed. These are precious dollars recovered from loss. It is more crucial than ever for today’s EA professionals to understand federal laws that govern the employment relationship. EA professionals should know these major laws and have a basic understanding of their tenets. Armed with this knowledge, they can better consult with supervisors in the course of managing troubled employees. Every EAP should respond to an additional question, “How do you respond when an employee comes to your office and states that he or she is interested in suing the company?” Communicating to customers that your EAP is a program of attraction like a magnet for troubled employees and those like to agress against the company financially, where they can get their needs met in "healthier ways" is a huge and attractive marketing point ignored by the most experienced EA professionals and related marketers. A business hearing this may respond very quickly with "where do I sign up!"