An attorney in our area has a tag line “One call, that’s all.”  If you make the call to him, it is implied that’s all you need to do and you will be taken care of.  A great EAP should do the same thing.  If you have an “800” number, strict quality assurance measures need to be in place to ensure it provides top quality care.  The initial contact can make or break whether or not an employee quickly gets the right help they need and is able to get back on track.

As an employee retention expert and author, I can tell you having a great EAP is one of your best weapons in your employee retention strategies.  When I ask clients I am consulting with if they have called the “800” number to see if it works, I hear a resounding “no.”  My question is, “Why not?”  If that is the initial point of contact someone has with EAP, you want to know how that first contact is going to go.  After all, we all know what it is like to be put on hold and listen to elevator music or get someone on the line that is grumpy or not very much help when we call for customer service.  If that happens on an EAP first call, you have just experienced a major setback.

If an employee is in prompt need of assistance, the “800” number better be able to do a quick triage, set up a time to meet with the person promptly, and get them in so they can start to address the issue.  Waiting for days to get in for an initial visit will destroy the EAP’s credibility.  Service needs to be prompt, knowledgeable and fast when one of your employees is experiencing an issue.  Days can seem like an eternity for someone with an issue even if it is not life threatening.  The right response will get people talking about your EAP positively.  I do find it amazing how employees are not bashful about telling co-workers about the experience they had with EAP.  People do talk about their issues at work, and if EAP is one of their issues…your organization has a major issue!

Always remember one of my key rules of employee retention strategies.  PEOPLE TALK!  You want them talking about how your EAP helped them immediately and did not make them sit on hold or give them the runaround.  The standard for your EAP should be, “One call, that’s all.”