Posted by Michelle Normandeau on March 12, 2021
Michelle Normandeau

While in-person consults for employee assistance programs (EAPs) have long been the norm, virtual care is on the rise, with virtual care visits comprising 60% of total healthcare visits in Canada since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this number scaled exponentially due to the pandemic, it’s clear that virtual care is here to stay. In today’s digital age, carving time out of your schedule to commute to appointments is inconvenient and time-consuming, whether it’s to consult for a medical issue or meet with legal counsellors, financial planners, or therapists.

If you intend on providing your employees with resources to help them become their best selves, it’s key to ensure they can access the resources they need as easily as possible. In this case, that means having resources available right at their fingertips through either their mobile device or computer. Much like banking has evolved from accommodating clients via strictly in-person meetings to being able to conduct most financial work online, so must the services offered by employee assistance programs in order to remain relevant. When it comes to EAPs, you have to go with an option that’s convenient for your employees.

There are plenty of reasons why a virtual employee assistance program benefits organizations more than the traditional in-person EAP model, with advantages for both HR leaders and employees alike. Read on to discover why the future of EAPs will be online.


Why are virtual EAPs the way of the future?

While classic EAPs may currently be the default market offering, they’re often regarded as inconvenient, inaccessible, and simply outdated as they were designed to cater to the needs of 20th century employees. Traditional employee assistance programs have not, for the most part, adapted to the virtual age. In fact, did you know that current EAP usage rates average just 11%, and that satisfaction rates for EAPs currently sit at only 39%

The majority of EAPs as they are today present various pain points for HR managers and employees alike and in order to keep up with the needs of modern employees and workplaces, the process and structure of EAPs must be reimagined. From being notoriously frustrating to get in touch with (often giving employees no choice but to dial a 1-800 number) to having to endure long wait times for an appointment (sometimes more than two weeks) before then commuting to the in-person consultation, it’s clear that traditional EAPs have their flaws. Additionally, from an HR management perspective, there is often a lack of data or ROI visibility on the program’s effectiveness which makes it difficult to track progress.

After speaking with clients and exploring the pain points of their traditional EAPs, Dialogue designed a reimagined alternative to resolve those challenges and meet today’s employee and organizational needs. Here’s how Dialogue’s virtual EAP provides a great end-to-end experience all on one platform.


How do virtual EAPs benefit HR leaders?

Clear, visible offering that is broadly communicated within your organization’s network

One of the pain points that is often voiced by organizations with traditional EAPs is that their program isn’t utilized as much as it could be or that their employees don’t know about the services that are at their disposal. Thanks to ongoing communication strategy and engagement campaigns that Dialogue works with your organization to create, your employees will know about all of the great services available to them and keep them engaged from day one. These engagement efforts have proved to be highly effective, with Dialogue’s services locking in a 140% member sign-up rate (including employees’ family members) and a 92% activation rate among our top 50 clients. 


Transparent reporting 

An EAP is a key investment for your business and so you should have total oversight over how your program is performing. Dialogue’s virtual EAP gives you full transparency and reporting on the stats you want to see, including ROI, utilization, and satisfaction rates. Be sure to share these metrics with your organizational leaders as they’re great indicators of how employee wellness impacts your business!


How do virtual EAPs benefit employees?


A virtual EAP allows employees to get the help they need no matter where they are via mobile device or computer at a time that’s convenient for them. This is the advantage of breaking down geographical barriers through a virtual medium: it’s about having the right help and resources available whenever and wherever your employees need it most.


Reduced wait times

With Dialogue’s virtual EAP, your employees will have access to qualified healthcare professionals within minutes. This is perhaps one of the main advantages that a virtual employee assistance program has over a traditional EAP, whose wait times typically average days or even weeks before your employee has their consultation. This way, your employees will have the ability to tend to their concerns as they happen, rather than having no choice but to wait for longer than is necessary.


Modern and unfragmented user experience

Dialogue’s virtual EAP was built to reflect the needs of today’s employees, from user-friendly navigation to a modern interface design. The virtual platform offers the ability to self-book within the app, with reduced wait times and the opportunity to secure an appointment with a healthcare professional faster than any in-person EAP.


High quality care

Virtual care provides the same level of attention and care that employees would receive in-person with a traditional EAP – only easier to navigate. Due to Dialogue’s app’s integrated nature, all Dialogue practitioners work on the same platform, making it possible to audit for quality and train our team to deliver the best care.


Continuity of care and follow-ups

Your Dialogue case manager will be there to help you throughout the entire EAP experience, whether it’s to schedule a follow-up, reschedule an appointment or get a referral. Following your initial consultation, your Dialogue care professional always makes a point to follow up with your case to ensure that you are on the path to recovery. Unlike traditional, in-person EAPs which typically provide fragmented care, you can count on Dialogue to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that your experience is smooth and efficient. 


Which services are included in a virtual EAP?

A virtual EAP grants you and your organization access to the same services that you would expect from a traditional EAP, including:

  • Stress management
  • Grief, abuse, depression, anxiety, addiction
  • Conflict resolution, domestic violence
  • Separation, divorce, parenting, family planning
  • Child care, child behaviour, elder care support
  • Career planning
  • Family, civil, criminal, and property law
  • Investments, debt management, mortgages, insurance, taxes
  • Individual/workplace stress

In order to ensure that you and your employees get the most out of your EAP, Dialogue also offers self-guided articles that are available for you to browse from the app’s intro screen under each category. Whether you’re searching for tips on stress and wellness, legal and financial advice, family and relationship counselling or more, be sure to check out the content available – we’re sure you’ll find it helpful! 

Want to learn more about how Dialogue’s virtual employee assistance program can benefit your organization? Speak to one of our account representatives now.

Topics: For Organizations

About the author

Michelle is the content writer for Dialogue. She's also a freelance writer for multiple publications including Narcity Media and Time Out Montreal.