Friday, March 14, 2008

It’s OK to Telephone the EAP

If you are an EAP with a face-to-face operation, inform employees through your communication channels, EAP orientations, and supervisor training’s, that you can help employees by telephone if they do not want to see the EA professional in person. Don't overlook this promotional strategy. Many EAPs miss a unknown percentage of potential clients because they do not specifically promote this option.

The bottom line – you don’t want to lose employees who need help, and who could improve your utilization rate just because they didn’t want to be persaonally seen. Many employees have never seen a mental health professional, let alone an EA professional. They may have no intention of doing so, and yet they still have personal problems.

You will need to give these folks plenty of permission to call you. Top managers are also skittish about visiting EA professionals. You’re likely to attract more top managers with this approach. Don’t lock yourself out of these referrals by being rigid about this additional method of helping employees. (This is NOT an endorsement for a telephone EAP model.)

Don’t think you will see fewwer employees in-person if you mention occasionally that you can still help them by phone. Just the opposite is true. Once “gun-shy” employees call, the ice is broken. You are made more familiar, and the employee is a step closer to accepting an in-person appointment.

Many of you have experienced a call from an employee, who you asked to come to the EAP office in person to better discuss a personal problem. They then agreed, but that’s because the employee got past the first mental roadblock--feeling comfortable with the person at the other end of the phone. Do not let administrative or secretarial staff manage these calls and attempt to motivate an in-person visit to the EAP by the caller. Have them referred to the EA professional to take the "sale" the rest of the way. It takes counseling skill to avoid losing some of these calls.