by Erin Krehbiel | September 15, 2016
With the rise of Millennials in the workplace and 24/7 work-life blending, employees expect much more from employers than a paycheck. Businesses are tasked with recognizing and addressing ever-changing workforce needs, and supporting employees both personally and professionally.

In light of the times, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) industry is changing to meet the needs of this diverse, tech-savvy, global workforce. The EAP has evolved from its early origins as a substance-abuse resource to become a multifaceted employee support program that reduces stress at work and at home, leading to improved employee retention, engagement, and performance. A contemporary EAP expands beyond basic services, offering a wide range of creative perks and innovative services to support employees and family members in all aspects of life. Here are five key components that a standard EAP is most likely missing:

1. Diversity and inclusion initiatives
* All family members eligible for services, regardless of location
* Millennial, boomer and veteran-specific services 
* International resources

2. 24/7 access to services 
* 24/7, global, mobile, social access to service via phone, text, email and chat
* Virtual and online clinical sessions
* Smart technology including mobile apps and online resources

3. Modern workforce solutions
* Integrated errand running
* Financial wellness
* Holistic life coaching and comprehensive caretaking referrals 

4. Program designed to fit client culture and goals
* Unlimited HR and management consultation for any workplace need
* Flexible training formats with orientation videos on YouTube
* Aggregate utilization reporting with data-driven workforce insights 

5. Ongoing employee engagement 
* Partnership marketing across all client sites and portals
* Email blasts, blog and social media posts, videos and monthly newsletters
* Crisis outreach on social media

High-quality EAPs are strategic partners, working collaboratively and continuously with human resources and other company stakeholders to promote a happier, healthier workforce by making services visible, responsive, and management-friendly. By working with an experienced EAP provider and employing these best practices, companies can build program awareness, increase utilization, and deliver a strong benefit return on investment.

Erin Krehbiel is president of ACI Specialty Benefits, a top-ranked provider of employee and student benefits including Employee Assistance Programs, Workplace Wellness, Concierge, and Student Assistance.