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Why Your Employee Assistance Program Is As Valuable As Insurance

Healthcare Simplified - Episode 3

July 31, 2017

BHS is redefining occupational health with their innovative employee assistance programs (EAP). They recognize that wellness is both mental and physical and their services remind employers that everyone needs a little help from time to time.

Our guest today was Dawn Motovidlak, president and CEO at BHS. She shared with us the industry struggles of current EAP and her mission to affect change within organizations through preventative mental health care for employees.

Here are the highlights of what Dawn had to say.

The big problem with many EAP

While most companies offer EAP to some extent, Dawn expressed her concern that they are often underutilized and under-promoted, carrying a perception that they are of little value.

This perception means employees who have a genuine need for assistance are potentially missing out on valuable, life-changing help. Programs are generally only utilized in times of crisis, becoming reactionary care, rather than proactive preventative solutions.

The underlying problem is that it’s impossible for your employees to leave their personal issues at the door. Whether it’s a difficult child, caring for a loved one, or working through grief, the effects of these mental health issues carry over into the workplace, and, at some point, will interfere with their ability to work.

Unless your leadership or HR teams are particularly attuned to changes in employee behavior, there is often no tie-back to how an individual’s personal problems impact performance, and, ultimately, the bottom line.

When you begin to see, treat and promote EAP as preventative, your employees can address and work through these issues before they reach crisis levels, saving you from potential losses in accident or health insurance claims, turnover, or lost customers.

The BHS difference

It’s not until organizations recognize and embrace the full potential of what can be done that they can see real success. Moving from a bare minimum, obligation-based program offering to one that truly values individuals, creates an environment where employees have the right resources, at the right time, to resolve their occupational health problems in the long term.

In this way, BHS is bringing EAP back to its roots as more of an “occupational social work”, where employees are valued as human beings who just need a little help to get on top of their mental and behavioral health.

One of the ways BHS does this is by ensuring clear and thorough communications any time they roll out a new EAP for a client. Whether through onsite or webinar training, there is a major focus on training leaders not just in the programs that are available, but also in what to look for when it comes to employees who might need assistance. Managers are on the front lines for noticing deteriorating job performance and can intervene before it evolves into something more costly for the company.

Getting that buy-in from the top down is one of the key indicators to whether or not EAPs are successful. Dawn stressed that her most successful clients see the value of what they’re implementing, seeing BHS as an invaluable workplace partner, consulting with them regularly for individual and departmental issues across their whole company.

The other difference BHS brings is their employee engagement. From the first employee orientation, where individuals are told of their access to free and confidential help, to providing onsite coaches and forums, BHS provide long term support for both company and employee.

Their Guide + Thrive program assists employees when they need guidance navigating all the employee benefits available to them, as well as identifying community resources, in an effort to move them from “surviving” to “thriving”. This is done through career coaching, leadership development, and skill development to bring about successful outcomes.

The importance of partnership

to occupational health

BHS have always had the mindset that individuals cannot get on the right track to physical health until they have established the right mental health balance.

In order to accomplish that, BHS is always looking to partner with health plans so when underlying issues are identified during treatment, BHS coaches can help the individual step through it. Dawn could not stress enough the importance of staying proactive when addressing occupational health--the greater the communication between health plans and BHS, the easier it is to identify and prevent crises down the line.

For instance, it’s a red flag when a primary care physician is prescribing psychotropics to an individual, but there are no corresponding mental health claims. Access to data like this means BHS can reach out to the individual and create a care plan to address the mental or behavioral issue that created the need for such a powerful drug.

BHS offer services to read and analyze this shared data as a means to preventing long term, insurance-draining conditions such as addiction and depression. Prevention and early detection are tantamount to early success, saving time and money. At the end of the day, creating happy, healthy employees can only serve to benefit everyone.


If you’d like to reach out to Dawn to find out how BHS can help you get the most value from your EAP, please call her at 410-591-5540, or visit the BHS website at

This post is based on a podcast interview with Dawn Motovidlak from BHS. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Healthcare Simplified. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.

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