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Morneau Shepell MyEAP App Makes Employment Assistance Programs Accessible

The My EAP app earned Morneau Shepell a place as a Finalist for the 2014 Ingenious Awards. If your organization is using technology in an innovative way, nominate your project for the 2015 Ingenious Awards by June 30th.

Employment Assistance Programs (EAP) and services are traditionally something you hear about when you are first hired at a company, with an email once in a while to remind you that they are there. The services offered by these programs are highly valuable, including access to trained counselors, financial planners, and much more. But having to walk into an HR office to get a contact for stress counseling or financial planning is a deterrent for many employees who want to access the services being provided by their companies. The result of this lack of accessibility and information is a fantastic service that can genuinely help employees going unused.

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MyEAP puts instant help in the hands of employees
Morneau Shepell, the world’s largest supplier of employee assistance programs, made a conscious decision to embrace digital delivery of its services through developing the MyEAP app for many reasons – including that employees and client companies thought the services were excellent, but many didn’t even know about them. The next barrier to overcome was privacy; employees in open office environments where a co-worker could hear them in the next cubicle needed a way to access their services privately and anonymously. Client companies understandably focus on their core business and not notifying employees of EAP programs, unless they have a highly engaged Human Resources team. It was up to Morneau Shepell to take the lead if they wanted to increase the accessibility of their services.

From 0 to 150,000 users in a few years
The initiative began with the idea of getting contact information for Morneau Shepell’s services on to every employee’s mobile phone. It has since grown into a fully interactive app, MyEAP, with over 150,000 downloads within Canada in 2015. The app is available in English, French and Spanish and for all mobile platforms, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry.

It allows a user to have a live chat with a counselor, a feature which Stephen Liptrap, Executive Vice-President, Morneau Shepell and General Manager of Shepell, says is a way “to start a conversation with the employee. These days, people want to build a relationship with you before they trust you to use your services, and a live chat is a great way to launch that relationship.” That relationship is also highly confidential, with client companies not having access to any of the employee’s counseling activities or any digital use of the app.

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If an employee wants access to counseling, they can request a face-to-face meeting through the app or register for e-counseling, which allows them to enter into email correspondence with a trained counselor. Employees can take advantage of self-serve booking through the app which saves them a phone call. It is hard for many of us to say “I need help” and self-serve booking eliminates that element from the equation.

The app also functions as a launching point to get information on EAP services for employees. 3-4% of Morneau Shepell’s 600,000 Canadian cases in 2014 services were directly requested through the app. Many people also use the app to get phone numbers, email addresses and other more traditional contact information for their EAP services.

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“Just in Time EAP”
Liptrap describes the app as a way of delivering what he calls “just-in-time EAP.” When an employee is having financial, legal, psychological, or other issues, the app is right there at their fingertips to deliver the help they need. If it wasn’t there, they may not remember in moments of duress that they have access to EAP services – they are too busy focusing on the issue at hand. Monthly push notifications serve as a constant reminder that EAP services are available and what they are. Morneau Shepell is working to further tailor its services to employees; for example, if they don’t have children, they will receive a different push notification than an employee with a family would.

Legal, financial and mental health services accessed through MyEAP
Liptrap describes the services mostly accessed through the app in three distinct groups. The first is relationship issues with business colleagues or family such as how to handle a difficult working relationship with a co-worker. The second group would be legal and financial help – people come to them about managing debt, retirement planning, and more. Employees can choose to use in-app worksheets and eventually get linked into a financial planner, a service covered under the EAP.

The third group is the most important and serious, and one of the main strengths of the app’s anonymity. This is the group that struggles with mental health issues such as stress and depression. Liptrap explains, “every single day we have people calling us wanting to commit suicide, or who have issues with depression and stress.” With people being “on” 24/7 and carrying mobile devices, they have instant access to help through the app.

The app’s purpose of ensuring awareness of services has exceeded expectations. Since the app came out four years ago, Morneau Shepell’s overall use of its EAP programs has skyrocketed by 50%. While those numbers may not be entirely due to the app, it has certainly helped to deliver important and potentially lifesaving services to people who need it most, when they need it. Client companies have recognized this as an essential service and are now coming to Shepell-fgi to get them to work with their IT departments to ensure that each employee’s device comes preloaded with the MyEAP app.