Posted by Michelle Normandeau on February 2, 2021
Michelle Normandeau

Companies have been investing in employee assistance programs since the 1940s as a way to help staff members tackle both personal and professional obstacles. But while the world has changed drastically from how it was all those decades ago, the standard EAP has remained largely the same… rendering it unadapted and outdated. 

It’s time to think about what traditional EAPs are offering – as well as what they’re lacking. What is missing from these programs that is stopping them from being successful in the first place? And most importantly, what do you not like about your own EAP?

The issues with your current traditional EAP

Often part of a larger corporate wellness plan, an employee assistance program (EAP) provides benefits funded and implemented by employers to help employees or organizational members navigate personal and work-related difficulties.

Picture this: Your company invests in an EAP to improve the well-being of your employees. You think that you’ve opened up access to a valuable resource for your employees. However, when the time comes to release a survey asking employees what they think of your EAP, they’re puzzled. “What’s an EAP?” they ask.

Many employees don’t know what an EAP is 

This happens more often than you’d think. Oftentimes, employees aren’t aware of the services that are at their fingertips, let alone how to access them. In fact, according to a 2016 Sanofi Canada healthcare survey, average utilization of EAPs sits at a dismal 11%. Even employees who are knowledgeable about their EAP and how to use it often don’t follow through on using its resources. This is because when it comes time to actually seeking assistance, employees often get frustrated with the outdated system and abandon the various hurdles they’d need to jump over before getting the help they need. Not only that, but the fact that traditional EAPs are not very user-friendly prompts employees to seek help to use the platform, often tapping on the shoulders of their HR department to assist in navigating the fragmented EAP experience.

Fragmented patient experience and care

Of course, there are employees who do choose to jump the hurdles, but their experience is usually quite disagreeable. In fact, traditional EAPs only have a 39% employee satisfaction rate*. For example, say one of your employees is concerned about their mental health and wants to seek help through your EAP. They typically have to call a 1-800 number, be put on hold, and then wait while the EAP provider puts them in touch with a mental health support specialist. At the end of the whole process, it could be two months or more before they’re able to see a healthcare professional to tend to their concerns. 

When appointment day finally rolls around, your employee has to take time off work to commute to the consultation in-person. Now, let’s say that they have a few sessions with the healthcare professional they’re paired with. While all is going well, when the amount of sessions covered by your EAP provider runs out, they’ll have to start back at square one and find another health specialist to repeat their concerns to. This results in extremely fragmented care, and for those seeking help, this only makes them feel more helpless.

Not ideal for HR professionals

Not only is this experience tiresome for employees, but for the HR managers implementing the EAP into the company as well. Most traditional EAPs do not provide any kind of onboarding to introduce the suite of services to employees, which leaves everything for HR to figure out. Not only that, but many of the classic EAPs don’t provide a deep enough level of in-depth reporting to measure results, often leaving business leaders unsure of how well their investment is paying off.

Now, while the EAP experience has been like this for quite some time, it doesn’t have to carry on that way. So, now that we’ve gone over what many HR professionals and company leaders (perhaps yourself included) find frustrating about the classic EAPs, why don’t we explore an alternative option that was designed to make your life a little easier?

Extended wait times

Based on market research conducted by Dialogue, extended wait times are the primary reason for EAP dissatisfaction. Between waiting for someone to pick up the phone, waiting for someone to call you back, waiting for a first appointment and then finally waiting for a follow-up appointment, it could feel like you’ve spent weeks of your life waiting to get help. The process is also often disjointed and lacks simplicity, leading EAP members to repeat their concerns at several different touch points. Employees who seek help from their EAP could already be in a state of distress, and waiting two weeks for an appointment should not be an option.


Short-term solutions

By nature, traditional EAPs provide short-term solutions. This means that they’re not connected to other employee health and wellness programs, like telemedicine and services included in group insurance plans. After successfully jumping through the hoops and benefiting from several sessions with a counsellor that suits your needs, once the maximum number of sessions included in your traditional EAP has been reached – that’s it and that’s all, with no more care available. Continuity of care is key for long-term health impact and how traditional EAPs currently function simply does not resolve issues in the long run.

Despite all of their flaws, EAPs are still very much in demand. Whether a parent becomes sick, an employee finds themselves in the middle of a divorce, or some other unexpected, life-altering event occurs, crises do happen and employers want their employees to have access to the support they need. This left us wondering: How could we resolve traditional EAP pain points to help bring further value to our clients?


Dialogue’s EAP: A progressive alternative that meets today’s employee’s needs

Dialogue has reimagined the EAP experience. Taking a deep look at the pain points mentioned above (including inconvenient accessibility, long wait times, and more), we analyzed what simply just isn’t working anymore and built a modern model of this classic (but antiquated) program. We aspired to create a program that was based on employees’ and HR leaders’ wants and needs, with access to the services that matter to them the most, including mental health services, legal and financial services, and much more. After all, an EAP is intended to help employees – not frustrate them. 

Clear offering and reliable support

With a clear offering of quality services, you and your employees will be fully supported by a dedicated customer success specialist from day one. They’ll help you through the onboarding process and support you in implementing an employee feedback system to monitor program satisfaction rates. We’ll also work with you to create an ongoing communication strategy to keep your employees in the know about the range of services available to them. You can count on us to be by your side when you need us.

Convenient, virtual experience

The app is 100% virtual and created with the user experience in mind, so employees are no longer inconvenienced by having to pick up the phone and call their provider. This means less time wasted for both your employees and yourself due to both the app’s efficient design and the fact that your employees can get the help they need directly through their computer or mobile device. 

Rapid in-app booking

The in-app appointment booking is simple to use, and employees are able to secure an appointment within 24 hours, guaranteed. With such quick turnaround time, no longer will your employees have to wait for weeks before getting the help that they need.

Specialized, continuous support

Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals sees patients every day that are in urgent need of support. With the option to be treated by the same counsellor through each session, we provide employees with the help they need up until remission because we care about your employees as much as you do. Getting help when it’s required is essential, and our quick and efficient response time will ensure that your employees are supported in their times of need. Dialogue also offers follow-ups after each appointment to make sure that everything is on the right track.

Proactive communication

Gone are the days of your employees not knowing what an EAP is. Your EAP is a great investment, and it’s important that your team is aware of the resources available to them. Dialogue provides clear communications that you can distribute to your staff to inform them about their EAP and the services included in the program. 

Transparent reporting

Your EAP is a key investment for your business, so we provide you with total oversight over how your program is doing. Dialogue’s EAP gives you full transparency and reporting on the stats you want to see, like ROI, utilization, and satisfaction. And feel free to share the reports with your business leaders – they’ll likely be curious to see just how much employee wellness impacts your business.

Integrated health platform approach

Dialogue aims to make your employees’ lives easier. With our integrated health platform, you’ll find all of our services in one place. Whether you or your employees need primary care assistance, mental health consultations, or EAP services (such as legal and financial counselling), you’ll find it all in our app. 

To give you a clearer idea of what makes Dialogue’s EAP stand out, check out the infographic below.



Dialogue EAP


The EAP of the Future

Our brand-new Employee Assistance Program combines all the essential services of an EAP to produce an enhanced employee experience. From mental health support, family and relationship coaching, legal consultations, financial consultations, child and eldercare support, work and career counselling, on-site critical incident response, manager support, or more, your employees will have access to all the resources they need with Dialogue’s new EAP. Furthermore, we’re thrilled to have recently announced the acquisition of Optima Global Health, a decades-long leader in Employee Assistance Programs. Over the coming months, we will collaborate closely to successfully integrate our organizations and deliver additional value for our clients and partners. 

At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: for our employees to feel great and love the services at their disposal; to be proud to talk about our benefits with potential candidates, and to know the ROI of the services we pay for. With our new EAP, built into our integrated health platform, we can meet all of those objectives. 

We’ve all collectively settled with what was available for too long, and now we can finally provide the fully integrated care experience that each employee deserves. After all, health is everything – don’t settle.

Ready to learn more about the EAP that’s right for you and your business? Speak to one of our specialists to learn more about how Dialogue can help.

*2016 Sanofi Canada healthcare survey


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.