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- By coinciding your EAP launch with a memorable date or moment in the company, you can generate hype about the service and make sure your team fully understands the support available.
- The most valuable thing you can do when launching an EAP is to ask senior members of your team to use it and share their experience with the rest of the team.
- Launching an EAP is just the beginning: for it to be a success, it needs to become a part of your company’s everyday life.
- Regularly promoting your EAP, appointing ‘EAP champions’, and including it in part of your onboarding process are all ways to build the EAP into the fabric of your company.
Congratulations! If you’re at the planning stage of launching an EAP in your company then you’re about to give your team access to professional mental health support. And that’s really great news.
But, for your EAP to be successful in its mission, your team needs to know about it. So, let’s talk about how to launch an EAP that becomes effective, known, and loved by your team, starting with when to launch.
When to launch a new EAP
They say timing is everything and the same goes for planning an EAP launch. Quietly sending it around on a Wednesday afternoon isn’t quite going to generate the hype your EAP deserves and quite frankly, people are probably going to forget it immediately.
Instead, think about coinciding the launch of your EAP with a memorable date or moment in the company. Here’s a few ideas to get the juices flowing.
🎂 Launch your EAP to coincide with important company dates
A company birthday, an anniversary of an important company moment, alongside other company wellbeing or social events: all of these are worthy of a celebration and while your team is in a joyous mood, it can be an impactful opportunity to share this new benefit.
🙏 Launch your EAP to say thank you for your team’s hard work
If you’ve got a big launch coming up, for example, a rebrand, a new product, a load of exciting new features, or the end of a run of events on the road, consider timing the start of your EAP to coincide with the days after. Chances are, your team will have been working flat out in the run-up to the launch. Acknowledge their hard work and show your appreciation by giving them the EAP: many of them might be feeling stressed or on the edge of burnout after such a big push.
🗓️ Launch your EAP alongside health and wellbeing events
Awareness days, weeks, and months litter the calendar, and are a great way to encourage people to support the important work of a number of charities. Many companies use these days as an opportunity to hold events like talks, fundraisers, and to get their teams involved in charitable activities. In the mental health space, Stress Awareness Month, Mental Health Awareness Week, World Wellbeing Week, or World Mental Health Day are all popular times for companies to raise awareness of these issues. We see a lot of companies choosing to launch Spill during Mental Health Awareness Week and it’s a really good idea: introducing a mental health benefit when there’s context and other activities going on not only helps spread the word but also lodges it in people’s minds.
Launch your EAP during times of instability
Every company will hit a rough patch. Whether that’s a major restructure, making redundancies, or a pivot in the company direction, company instability can have a huge knock-on effect on your team. An EAP is a great partner to these sticky moments and can help you manage any feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear of the future amongst your employees. If your company is hitting a rough patch or coming out of the other side, consider introducing your EAP and encouraging your team to use it as they navigate difficult times of change.
💙 Launch your EAP alongside other initiatives
If you're introducing an EAP as part of a wider health and wellbeing initiative, consider packaging them all together under the same name, or link these benefits to your company values. Free fruit, a right to disconnect policy, gym subsidies, virtual exercise classes, walking meetings, occupational health support, meditation app access: these all contribute to your team’s emotional health and stability. Rather than drip-feeding changes, plan the relaunch of health and wellbeing in your company, and celebrate them all. The same idea works for the introduction of other initiatives: launching a new learning and development policy? Great! Package that up with your new EAP so people can start using their new workplace benefits.
Launch your EAP whenever you need it
It goes without saying that if your team urgently needs support, then just launch it. Rather than wait for any of the above to happen, give your employees the help they need, when they need it.
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How to launch an EAP (according to Spill)
So, with all that in mind, what does a successful EAP launch look like? Launching an EAP doesn’t simply mean sending round an email with the details and leaving it there. For maximum success, an EAP should become part of the fabric of your company — and that means planning a proper launch.
Here at Spill, we’re no strangers to launching employee support in different companies: after all, we ourselves are a mental health benefit that over 600 employers provide for their teams. Over the years, we’ve taken part in hundreds of company launches. So, based on this experience, here’s our recommendation for a flawless EAP launch.
1. Set goals for your EAP
You may already have this covered, but before your EAP goes live it's worth thinking about some goals for the launch. Not only can these be a tangible measure of success, but it will also give you focus when it comes to onboarding the EAP.
- Our EAP launch will help normalise the conversation around mental health at work
- Our EAP launch will increase awareness of support within the company
- Our EAP launch will help drive employee uptake of support
If you already send out an employee engagement survey, consider adding in some questions about either the EAP itself (how useful is it that the company has an EAP?) or mental health in general (to what extent do you feel like the company gives you the tools to support your mental health at work?) to help keep you focused on your goals.
2. Make a communications plan
Everyone in your company should not only be aware that the EAP is launching, but understand how to use it and what they can use it for. And that’s when a communications plan comes in handy.
Decide how to tell people about the EAP
For example, you could:
- Prepare leaflets, posters, emails, an internal webpage, or scheduled Slack messages, and send them out throughout the day.
- Share information over the next few days, weeks, and months to keep promoting your EAP.
- Ask managers to discuss the EAP with their reports in one-to-ones on an ongoing basis and have senior members of staff regularly mention it in meetings.
Anastasija, Spill’s Customer Onboarding Lead, has personally helped over 300 companies launch Spill and recommends thinking about how you can incorporate some of the EAPs features into your daily company life. “For example, Spill’s Ask A Therapist feature allows you to message a therapist and get a thoughtful reply back in two working days. Thinking about this feature from a comms perspective, you could ask questions and share the answers with the team or make them a part of your internal staff newsletter.”
Decide what you want to tell people about the EAP
As well as deciding how to tell people about the EAP, your communications plan should include what you want to tell people.
Consider breaking the information down into smaller chunks: not only is this easier for people to take in, but it keeps your ongoing EAP promotional material fresh:
- Start by framing the reasons for getting an EAP around mental health at work: one in six people experience mental health problems in the workplace
- Explain why the EAP has been introduced, like to help people thrive at work and have a safe space to talk about their professional and personal life
- Share common topics that people talk to therapists about or the areas they can provide support
- Put together a list of FAQs with a particular focus on confidentiality, the fact it's free to use, and that using it will in no way impact career progression
- Share tutorials on how to use it (or make a visual step-by-step guide on how to use it)
- Share more information about the provider itself — reviews and case studies can help bring the EAP to life and show how they’ve helped others
- Point people towards resources, such as managers towards advice on how to support their teams with mental health
Remember to include the EAP’s contact details on everything you distribute: you never know when someone will need to use it, so make it as easy for them as possible.
Spill’s Account Executive Annie also highlights the importance of making sure your team knows that mental health support is available for everyone. “There's a lot of stigma around accessing therapy support, so communicate to your team that they don't need to be struggling with a diagnosed mental health disorder or triggering life event to benefit from speaking to a therapist.” Give some practical examples of the kind of topics people could bring to a therapy session, from burnout to imposter syndrome to relationship issues.
“Make sure your team knows that they don’t need to be struggling with a diagnosed mental health disorder or triggering life event to benefit from speaking to a therapist.”
— Annie, Account Executive at Spill
3. Get your leadership team involved
“From my experience of Spill launches, I can confidently say that hearing from the senior leadership about their mental health and experience with therapy is the most valuable thing you can do”, says Anastasija when asked for her top tip for companies launching employee support.
“Hearing from the senior leadership about their mental health and experience with therapy is the most valuable thing you can do.”
— Anastasija, Customer Onboarding Lead at Spill
It’s something that we’ve seen here at Spill time and time again: the companies with the highest engagement with Spill are the ones that get senior figures in the company to interact with the platform before it officially launches. Then, on launch day, they share their experience. This doesn’t mean sharing what they talked about but rather chatting through what it was like to book a Spill therapy session, what the therapist was like, how the session worked, and what happened afterwards.
The team at Good Innovation did exactly that when they launched Spill in October 2022. “As a company, we all sat and watched the Spill intro session together,” explains Yvonne Filler, Marketing Manager at Good Innovation. “Everyone then had a chance to ask questions. Afterwards, two senior members of our team shared their pre-launch experience of using Spill. One of them had never had therapy before and this was doubly useful for our team to hear.”
Support from the senior team works because company culture change is so often a top-down process. “Senior leadership plays a big part in company culture,” says Anastasija. “For example, sharing that they’re taking a walk in the middle of the day or having a therapy appointment signals to the rest of the company signals that it’s acceptable behaviour and part of your culture.”
For Ally, Sales Manager at Spill, launch talks are also an indicator of higher engagement.
“Over the last two and a half years, the companies that opt out of having a launch talk are the ones that get the lowest level of engagement, so definitely ask your EAP provider if it's possible for them to support your launch with a talk. Alternatively, you could plan a launch talk yourself and invite a guest speaker! It’s amazing just how reassuring it is for teams to have someone from outside of their business tell them that it’s okay to use Spill.” If you’re planning on doing a launch talk yourself, we recommend using the EAP beforehand — at the very least calling the phone line and going through the process of booking a session — so that you’ll be equipped to answer any more specific questions your team might have about how the EAP works. And remember to record the talk! This will be a handy resource for new starters or anyone wanting to refresh their memory.
“It’s amazing how reassuring it is for teams to have someone from outside of their business tell them that it’s okay to use Spill.”
— Ally, Sales Manager at Spill
4. Follow up on the EAP’s launch
Launch day isn’t the end: in an ideal world, your launch plans will go on for a few weeks at least. Obviously, daily business will slowly take over again but consider making time for a few post-launch follow-up activities.
This could include a recap of the day, a summary sheet of what the EAP is and how to use it, a recording of any talks that took place, or perhaps you could keep a running document of common FAQs. Jot down the ones that came up on launch day and treat it as a living document, adding new questions as they crop up.
It’s also worth scheduling a company meeting a few days or weeks after your launch of the new EAP. As well as providing another opportunity to explain why it’s been introduced and what it can be used for, it will give your team a chance to ask more questions and discuss how they feel about the EAP.
5. Keep an eye on how the EAP is working
An EAP is only successful if you can see it working. So, keep tabs on it!
Make a timeline and set up calendar reminders to regularly check in on your EAP’s uptake and effectiveness. Not all EAP providers will share (anonymous) usage data as standard, so it’s worth asking them if you can have it. If you can get it, this can be a great way to see how many people are using the EAP and in some cases, the top-level reasons as to why they’re using it (no specific details will be given to you). Consider sending an employee survey round after the first couple of months to see how your team is responding to it. Consider asking questions like:
- Have you used the EAP yet or are you actively planning to?
- Would you know how to use the EAP if you weren’t feeling great?
- What concerns might you have about using the EAP?
- How supported do you feel by the company when it comes to your mental health at work?
Use your team’s answers to form any future promotional communications plan for the EAP and remember to update your team with any changes that result from the survey: ultimately, people want to be heard.
Partner with Spill to provide mental health support for a few employees or cover the whole team.
Common FAQs from employees
As with anything new, your team will of course have questions. In some cases, you might have to go away to research the answer but take some time to find out the answers to anticipated questions. Here are the most common questions we get asked when launching Spill with a new company:
- Will the company know if I use the EAP?
- How many counselling sessions can I have with the EAP?
- Who are the EAP counsellors?
- Can I choose to have counselling in-person, via video, or over the phone?
- Can my family members use the EAP if they need to?
Your EAP provider should be able to answer all of these questions for you, so be sure to reach out to them during your launch preparation. We’ve also got a few articles that you might find useful at this stage, like:
How to make your EAP an ongoing success
Of course, nailing the launch is just part of your company’s EAP journey. The real success comes when it becomes part of your company’s everyday life.
🗣️ Talk about the EAP with new starters
Include information about the EAP in your onboarding process for new team members. Share recordings of the launch talk (if you have one), put together summaries of how the EAP works and include in any onboarding documentation, and consider scheduling in an intro chat with new starters to specifically talk about employee wellbeing at your company. By introducing it to new starters, the EAP will quickly being a part of your company’s ongoing culture.
🙌 Champion your EAP (and mental health)
We’ve already talked about the impact it can have when senior members of staff voice their support of the EAP and everything it offers, so, keep that going! Ask people at different levels across the company to be an ‘EAP champion’ and regularly talk about the EAP: they could mention it in team meetings, share their experience of using it, and point people towards it during one-to-ones. And remember, this isn’t just about championing the EAP, but making the conversation around mental health part of your team’s culture.
It doesn’t just have to end there, either. Consider offering Mental Health First Aid training to a few people or put together a mental health committee: by having a dedicated group of people monitoring employee health and happiness, and finding solutions, your wider team will have more opportunities to learn about and check-in with their own mental health.
📣 Promote your EAP, constantly
Don’t underestimate how often you can get away with promoting your EAP. Pin up new posters (or update old ones), run user sessions, hold talks about mental health, upskill managers, make use of your new mental health committee to plan employee wellbeing events, or simply mention it (again) at the end of an all-company meeting. Think about places (either physical or digital) that your employees look at on a recurrent basis, and see if you can put a visual reminder of your EAP there. A few examples might include people’s payslips, the home screen of your company wiki or intranet, a sticker on the office fridge or kettle… the opportunities are endless. Your team needs to feel aware of and comfortable with accessing support when they need it, so don’t hold back.
Launching an EAP is an exciting step in any company’s journey, so make it a time to remember. And don’t forget, that support is there for everyone: including you! Setting up and launching an EAP is no mean feat, so be sure to make the most of the support you've just introduced if you're feeling frazzled.
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Spill is typically used by 50% of employees in a year. That means up to 10 times as many people get support vs. an EAP.