How to Start, Sell, and Grow an EAP

By Marina London, LCSW, CEAP, and Michael Klaybor, Ed.D., CEAP


It was obvious from our experiences and years attending EAPA conferences, that while there is great interest in starting and marketing an EAP, there were no articles, books, or trainings that would teach interested parties how to accomplish such a complex task. To fill that gap, we created an all-day workshop that was unveiled as a pre-conference training opportunity at the 2016 World EAP Conference in Chicago.

We wanted to cover every aspect of building/growing an EAP, including staffing, implementing, and nurturing a fledgling program. Using hands-on experience in selling and running EAPs, we aimed to provide a boots on the ground, nitty gritty learning experience that would give participants the “tools of the trade.” We used videos, web-based examples of best practices, sample presentations and paperwork, and discussions. The intent was to create an engaging teaching experience and leave participants with an understanding of the nuts and bolts necessary to launch and successfully run an EAP.
These are the topics we addressed:

EAP 101
We encouraged anyone interested in starting an EAP to acquire some foundational knowledge first. If they are a licensed clinician – get the Employee Assistance Specialist – Clinical (EAS-C) certificate. If they are already doing EAP work – obtain the CEAP® credential. Attend a World EAP Conference. Become an EAPA member to access the Journal of Employee Assistance archive, EAPA’s Annotated Bibliography of EAP Statistics and Research Articles, and EAPA’s Conference on Demand. Join an EAPA chapter or branch and network with fellow EA professionals.”

Define the Scope of Services and Staff Accordingly
We outlined core EAP services, including providing counseling to employees and management consultations. Then we discussed add-on services, such as sexual harassment prevention training, nutritional counseling, CIR, wellness, smoking cessation, etc.

Once the scope of services are decided, the next step is to hire the necessary staff and affiliate providers. We recommended hiring, at minimum, master’s level clinicians from a variety of professional backgrounds including psychologists, social workers, and RNs. We also discussed giving preference to hiring individuals with EAS-C training or the CEAP®. 

We described the range of EAP staffing, explaining the roles of the account manager, director of clinical services, sales, etc. 

We also talked about filling in staffing gaps by using after hours’ coverage companies, and specialized services to provide critical incident response and Fitness for Duty evaluations.

Pricing EAP Services
Correctly pricing services is essential to the success of any EAP. We covered costing formulas, including Per Employee Per Month (PEPM), versus charging a flat fee, as opposed to charging by the case, as well as low-end versus boutique pricing.

EAP Marketing/Sales Materials and Techniques

We discussed the components of a successful marketing presentation and marketing materials. This should include a representative list of current client companies, ROI data, and a brochure. We also used existing EAP websites to demonstrate how to create a compelling online presence. Finally, we outlined how to prepare for a sales call.

Rolling out the EAP 
We explained that introducing a new EAP involves creating an internal client company profile, including a description of the organization’s culture, key contacts, demographics, and insurance plans. Communicating the existence of the program to employees and management should be done via multiple channels, including email, posting on company intranet, videos, and in-person orientations. We showed sample PowerPoints and examples of both effective and ineffective EAP orientation videos.

Running the EAP
We looked at sample statements of understanding and consents to release information. We encouraged the use of evidence-based assessment tools such as the AUDIT, reading the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) Annual Report, and using the WOS. We discussed using specialized EAP software to manage cases, and creating an internal policy and procedures manual for staff.

We also talked about the importance of maintaining program visibility by using wellness and lunch-and-learn programs, regular newsletters, blog posts, and other communications geared toward employees and managers. Finally, we reviewed the essential components of an effective EAP utilization report.

Technology
We described and demonstrated a range of service delivery technologies including HIPAA compliant and encrypted platforms for video, text-based and email counseling, as well as creating an app. We discussed issues related to informed consent, backup plans, time zone considerations, online etiquette, and ethics. We talked about implementing a social media marketing plan, including which channels to use. We also discussed best practices for use of technology, including obtaining Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) training.

Preparing for the Future of EAP
Lastly, we talked about trends impacting the future of employee assistance, such as increasingly heterogeneous employee populations, growing mobile device penetration, and the potential for a wave of DNA-based treatments and approaches for mental illnesses and substance use disorders. We also urged participants to become knowledgeable about cybersecurity issues as the potential for data hacking incidents is increasing.

Summary
We had 25 participants in this first-ever training program, and anticipate further improving and developing this workshop to incorporate attendee feedback and ongoing developments in employee assistance.

Marina London, LCSW, CEAP, is Manager of Web Services for EAPA and author of iWebU, http://iwebu.info, a weekly blog about the Internet and social media for mental health and EA professionals who are challenged by new communication technologies. She previously served as an executive for several national EAP and managed mental health care firms. She can be reached at m.london@eapassn.org.

Michael Klaybor, Ed.D., CEAP, brings 25 years’ experience as a Certified Employee Assistance Professional to this training, which includes executive coaching, training and consulting of new EAPs in Moscow, Croatia, and Sakhalin Island on the topics of substance abuse evaluations, stress management, wellness, workplace violence, CISM, and fitness for duty evaluations. He specializes in workplace problems, anxiety, stress, and chronic pain management treatment. Dr. Klaybor has utilized videoconferencing training and services to EAPs in over 20 countries. He can be reached at: drmike@klayborandklaybor.com. He is co-owner of EAP in a Box, www.eapinabox.com.