What does “helping others” mean to you? Perhaps those words make you think about giving or volunteering, taking food to a sick neighbor, or giving unused clothes or toys to a local family in need. There is a recently released report on the state of “generosity” in our world and while you may have heard giving trends have been declining, what this report shows is that “generosity” is alive and well.

You may be wondering why this is important or relevant to a company. Well… it is! Because your company is also a community, and you have the power to cultivate generosity amongst your employees. Recent research shows that one of the top ways people are generous is through informal giving, which includes giving directly to people in need and/or to unregistered organizations. You may already see this kind of generosity in your workplace when an employee wants to create a GoFundMe page for a colleague in need or starts a meal train, but did you know there’s a way for your company to encourage these charitable efforts in a formal and secure way?

Launching an employee assistance program (EAP) is one of the best ways to harness this generosity! EAPs can provide a wide range of initiatives and/or grants from your company and fellow colleagues that support employees facing difficulties. Examples of EAP efforts include free counseling services, a disaster response near an office location or financial assistance after an employee experiences a personal hardship. They are a great solution for companies to inspire this close-knit generosity in their workforce in a way that’s safe, tax deductible and easily reported.

If you’re considering starting an EAP, or have an existing program that you want to refresh, we recommend following these three strategies to ensure maximum impact:

1. Make granting AND employee giving core parts of the program.
When designing an EAP, many companies solely focus on the criteria and circumstances when they will offer assistance, and what those assistance grants will be. These are essential discussions that Global Impact consults with our clients on to ensure employees are supported. But what is missing in that equation is designing how you will engage and mobilize the support of employees that also want to help those colleagues in need.

Companies miss the opportunity to inspire generosity and build community when they don’t take the time to build a strategy for employee giving. When building this plan, think of different opportunities to advertise the program and engage coworkers. Are there communications that go companywide when a disaster happens to ask for support? How are you thanking and cultivating employees who choose to give? Do you have a way to capture stories from supported employees that are willing to share?

The donation process should also be straightforward for your employees, whether it’s through payroll deduction, your existing employee giving platform or an EAP specific donation page (which Global Impact can create for you!)

2. Design the application thoughtfully.
When designing the assistance application, take into account the wellbeing and state of the employee experiencing the hardship. It is important to remember that for most people who are coming to your EAP, they are completing the application on perhaps one of their worst days. They may be coping with a loss, managing an active crisis or experiencing extreme stress or trauma. You want to ensure your application is user friendly, clear on requirements, and as easy to complete as possible, while collecting enough detail to ensure a careful due diligence process. You will also want to take into consideration any specific sensitivities on the crisis (for example, if you offer assistance for employees experiencing domestic violence) and the relevance of your application in a global context, if relevant. Global Impact uses technology that offers language translation and a logic-based application focused on where the employee is located to ensure its relevance.

3. Conduct an annual review of the program.
While we don’t advocate for frequent changes to your program and changes need to be evaluated with a legal and governance lens, it is still important to conduct an annual review to make improvements where you can. When analyzing the program, key questions to ask your team are:

  • What are the top challenges your workforce is facing?
  • Why were certain applications rejected? Do you need to improve the application? Or enhance employee resources to ensure they understand the assistance offered?
  • Are there employees that are not eligible that are core to your business? For example, do you need to make your program global?
  • How does the assistance provided reflect the demographics and locations of your company? Are there certain departments, locations or employment classifications that underutilize the program? Do you need to make a concerted effort for education and awareness of program?

When strategically designed, an EAP is not only a kind thing to offer but also serves as an effective employee engagement tool. They provide many benefits to your company, including:

  • Employees whose wellness are taken care of bring their best performance at work.
  • Strengthened community as coworkers have the opportunity to help each other.
  • Increased brand reputation as you demonstrate the organization’s commitment to social impact.

Wherever you’re starting from, Global Impact can support your EAP every step of the way. We help develop, launch and administer successful programs of all scopes and sizes that empower and support your employees. See how our clients leveraged their EAPs in 2022, and get in touch with us for custom approaches fit to your workforce.