How to choose the right EAP: 10 things to consider when purchasing a wellbeing service

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Choosing the right Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or alternative wellbeing solution, can create a happier, healthier workforce. This in turn can boost productivity, employee engagement and your employee value proposition. But it's a big decision, and there are many factors to consider when choosing the right service.

This video guide explores 10 key factors to consider when selecting an EAP, or any wellbeing provider, with advice from the experts at Sonder. They include:

  1. Scope of care: Look for a provider offering a holistic approach that addresses mental health, medical concerns, and safety issues.
  1. Hours of care: Accessibility is key. Choose a provider with options for after-hours and preferred communication methods (chat, phone, etc.).
  1. Critical incident support: Ensure the provider offers services to help employees during and after critical events.
  1. Accreditations and qualifications: Verify the provider's accreditations and ensure their medical professionals hold the appropriate qualifications.
  1. Digital self-help: Consider a provider that complements human support with digital tools like self-help resources and apps.
  1. Balance between digital and human support: While digital tools can increase accessibility, human interaction remains essential.
  1. Utilisation Rates: Ask potential providers about their average utilisation rates to gauge employee engagement.
  1. Engagement rates: Look for a provider with strategies to promote ongoing use among your employees.
  1. Data and Insights: Choose a provider that offers insightful data reports to help you identify trends and shape your wellbeing strategy.
  1. Business Impact: Consider the potential impact on your business, such as improved employee retention, productivity gains, and reduced risk to build a compelling business case.

Sonder is an EAP alternative challenging the traditional EAP model. Sonder's employee care platform provides businesses the next step in employee assistance and gives workforces easy access to safety, medical and mental health support all in one place. It also has a network of responders who can quickly assess and assist in complex and emergency scenarios, with support centres that are staffed 24/7. Find out more here.

1. Evaluating an EAP's scope of care

While a traditional EAPs' scope of care is usually limited to mental health, Sonder data shows that more and more people are now reaching out for concerns outside of mental health. In fact, 30% are reaching out for medical support, highlighting the importance of providing a more holistic solution.

In this clip Leanne Naber, Sonder's Account Executive and Julia Bageski, Sonder's Head of Customer Success share tips on the kind of support pathways you should be looking for from your provider.

2. Evaluating an EAP's hours of care

We don't know when our employees might need support, but it's likely their hours of need will often occur outside business hours. That's why it's important to give your employees access to care that will be accessible when they need it most.

Sonder data shows us that how people are reaching out for help is changing. We see over 60% reaching out after 6pm, when many traditional EAP phone lines are closed. In this clip Leanne shares why this is an important consideration for HR and WHS leaders.

3. Comparing EAPs' critical incident support

While as an organisation you may not be able to predict the occurrence of critical incidents, such as acts of customer aggression or workplace accidents, you can put services in place to connect with your people with support, confirm their safety, and keep them updated as events unfold.

When considering a wellbeing solution, you should first and foremost ensure that post-incident care is easy to access, as Leanne explains in this clip.

4. EAP accreditations and qualifications to look out for

Since different wellbeing providers use different terminology around accreditations and qualifications, when shopping for a solution it's important to understand what these terms mean. They can make a big difference to the quality of care your people might be receiving.

In this clip Leanne and Dr Jamie Philips, Sonder's Medical Director, explain the importance and intricacies of health accreditations plus the health professionals that have protected titles, so you know what to look out for.

Read more on why accreditations, qualifications, and registrations can make a difference to the quality of care your employees receive here.

5. Should you replace your EAP with digital self-help?

With more wellbeing apps flooding the market, you might be wondering whether self help tools can replace the human support offered by traditional EAP providers. Particularly since these digital solutions improve access and reduce barriers to care, encouraging people to seek help where they may not have previously.

In this clip Leanne and Dr Jamie explain why there needs to be a balance between digital and human support.

For more advice on what to look for when choosing a digital self-help tool for your employees, check out our blog.

6. What should your EAP utilisation rate be?

If more people are feeling comfortable seeking support with a service, you'll have higher uptake and be able to help more of your people. However, with traditional EAP providers only able to achieve an average of 5% utilisation rate, what's the right kind of utilisation goal to strive for?

In this clip Leanne and Julia suggest it could be upward of 40% and share the questions you should be asking your potential provider when it comes to usage rates.

Check out some of the utilisation rates Sonder customers have been able to achieve here.

7. What should your EAP engagement rate be?

An equally important consideration to the utilisation rate of an EAP, is the engagement rate of an EAP. How might your people engage with the solution that you are considering? In this stage of the process, you'll want to think about how the providers you're evaluating fit into your wellbeing framework. Not only to enhance engagement, but to ensure that your employees know where and how to access support.

In this clip Leanne and Julia suggest asking prospective wellbeing solutions what their ongoing support looks like, to help you reach your engagement goals.

8. EAP data and insights to track

As a leader it's important to understand the trends and potential risks that might be unfolding in your business. Ensuring your provider offers valuable insights will help you get ahead and identify wellbeing trends will help shape and refine your strategy over time. But not all EAP data is created equal.

In this clip Leanne and Julia share the data and insights your EAP should provide, without compromising employee privacy and confidentiality, and how we're seeing customers use those insights.

Our dashboard captures anonymous interactions between employees and Sonder in real-time so you know what's happening with your people, when it's happening. Read more here.

9. What should an EAP cost?

While it's hard to put a price on employee health and wellbeing, EAP pricing tends to always be a major consideration when reviewing solutions,

It's really important for your executive team to understand upfront what the costs will be as Leanne Naber, Sonder's Account Executive, explains in this clip.

At Sonder, we use fixed pricing. We believe it's the most attractive way to price our EAP alternative services for organisations that genuinely want high employee uptake and better safety, health, and wellbeing outcomes. Find out more here.

10. How to measure the business impact of your EAP

When implementing a new EAP or wellbeing platform, leaders will be hoping the ripple effect will create a happier, healthier workforce, improve staff retention and even make a more attractive employee value proposition (EVP). But when it comes to measuring the ROI of EAPs, what metrics should you be tracking?

In this clip Leanne and Julia share the metrics that'll allow you to demonstrate early value from an employee wellbeing service.

Download our EAP deep-dive report

For more advice, download our 'How to compare EAPs' guide which helps you:

  • Discover what makes EAP alternatives different
  • Learn how to compare vendor offerings
  • Write a convincing business case

Ready to experience a modern approach to employee care? Get in touch with Sonder today to discover how our platform can benefit your organisation.

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Sonder is reimagining health, safety and wellbeing support. Sonder proves human centric care leads to earlier intervention. Sonder impacts one person at a time to drive meaningful change across an organisation. Sonder understands people and how to support them.

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