Why your EAP isn’t having the impact it could

Author: Wellbeing

You want your people to feel happy, supported, and empowered to thrive at work – but the EAP you put your trust into just isn’t revolutionising employee wellbeing in quite the way you thought it would.

So why isn’t it working, and what can you do about it?

EAPs help people to handle challenges in their personal and professional lives, before they become overwhelming. At their most effective, EAPs can have an incredibly positive impact on employee engagement levels – boosting productivity, lowering absenteeism, and increasing retention. Done right, they form a really valuable part of your company’s wellness initiative.

But uptake is infamously low – particularly amongst men.

Below, we explore some of the reasons that your people might not be using the company EAP to its full advantage – and offer up suggestions for increasing EAP engagement.

5 Reasons Your People aren’t Using Your EAP

1. Stigma

One of the biggest barriers to accessing mental health support in any workplace is stigma. Some organisations introduce an EAP and consider the wellbeing box ticked, but there’s so much more to it. If mental health challenges aren’t spoken about openly and honestly in your workplace, it’s going to be hard to create a culture where your people feel comfortable enough to seek support.

Try: Starting the conversation. Make talking about mental health the norm. Share when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or low, and ask others about their wellbeing. Encourage senior leaders to share their lived experience of mental health, then look for volunteer storytellers at all levels, and from all departments. Having a story to relate to can have a real impact on mental health stigma.

2. Signposting

Another common problem in companies with poor EAP engagement centres on signposting. If your employees don’t know what support is available, uptake will be low. Sadly, it’s not enough to simply showcase your EAP during the initial onboarding process: people are busy, and can easily forget – not to mention the fact that if they were in high spirits when they joined the company, they may not have even registered your EAP offering in the first place.

Try: Sending constant reminders. Communication is absolutely key when it comes to improving EAP uptake. HR and comms teams should work together to ensure regular messages are circulated company-wide, reminding people of the help and support at their disposal. Look to utilise emails, your company intranet, team meetings, announcements and updates from the leadership team, as well as posters if people are back in the office.

3. Confidentiality

Even in organisations where mental health stigma is a thing of the past, and people discuss their wellbeing with the same candour as their physical health, engagement with EAPs can be seriously impacted if they’re not seen as confidential. While people may choose to open up to their colleagues, few people want their personal struggles broadcast without their say-so. We know that’d never happen, because EAPs are strictly private and confidential – but do your employees know that?

Try: Reassuring people that any and all support they choose to access through the company EAP is completely confidential – and their manager and colleagues will never know about it if they don’t choose to confide in them. It’s important to reiterate this message every time you communicate your EAP.

4. Permission culture

This one is quite closely linked to stigma, but it’s an important differentiation to make. In workplaces where conversation around mental health and mental health support isn’t the norm, people can feel reticent to seek help without being given express ‘permission’. Your employees might be worried about needing time off for counselling, accessing help during working hours, seeking support for family members, or even feeling concerned that they can’t use an EAP unless they’re in distress.

Try: Making permission explicit. Leave your people in no doubt that you fully support (and encourage) employees in prioritising their wellbeing, and making full use of the company EAP. Be as flexible as you can when it comes to needing time out for counselling or self-care, and communicate this message in every EAP promotion.

5. Choice

Every one of your employees is completely different to the next, meaning it can be extremely difficult to appeal to everyone with a single, streamlined EAP. Some people respond to counselling, while others want to feel empowered to care for their own wellbeing through tailored resources that appeal to their uniqueness. The best way to increase employee engagement with your EAP then is to make sure it’s relevant to everyone.

Try: Personalising your provision. Most EAPs take a blanket approach to employee wellbeing, and honestly? That’s one of the main reasons engagement often falls short of expectations. People like personalised choice; they respond to wellbeing solutions that are tailored to meet whatever challenges they’re facing, head on. And that’s why we created BetterSpace.

Personalised Wellbeing that Incorporates Your EAP

The BetterSpace platform is built around the six pillars that have the biggest impact on our wellbeing – from sleep, nutrition and exercise, to community, stress management, and meaningful activity. When your first join us, your employees take a confidential assessment to see which of the pillars they’re struggling with – and from there, we recommend wellbeing resources that are uniquely tailored to their particular challenge.

It’s easy, accurate, and entirely in their control. We can even incorporate your existing EAP – and help you to signpost to your heart’s content. 

The result? Happy, supported employees who feel empowered to thrive at work (and an EAP with a far more promising engagement rate). 


BetterSpace is the employee wellbeing platform putting control where it belongs: in the hands of the individual employee. Our groundbreaking solution has been developed with medical and domain expertise and is aligned to our Six Pillars of Wellbeing. BetterSpace empowers your workforce to understand and fulfill their mental health needs.

Want to know more? Contact us today.