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U.S. Bank

US Bank sign
  • Headquarters

    Minneapolis, MN

  • Number of Employees


  • Industry

    Finance and Insurance

U.S. Bank: Campaigning to Make EAP Top of Mind

Key Findings

  • Work with your EAP to ensure that you offer a wide variety of supportive services to meet the daily needs of many employees, not just people in crisis.

  • Consider the many opportunities and strategies you can use to communicate EAP services.

  • Provide leaders and managers with insight into the needs of employees and how EAP can help them with questions they have as managers.

U.S. Bank has experienced marked growth and expansion over the years since its beginnings in 1853. As it has grown, its leaders and human resource managers have provided benefits and services to help the bank’s employees cope with the inevitable changes and challenges that the banking industry and any large organization faces, not to mention the typical life events that sometimes distress employees and distract them from their work.

Employee Assistance Resources

One benefit offered to employees and their family members for many years is their employee assistance program (EAP). The EAP is an external model, contracted through Ceridian, which provides telephonic support and consultation by master’s-level credentialed and licensed counselors as well as online informational resources. All U.S. employees and family members may access support from work or from home 24/7. Providing this benefit is just one way U.S. Bank puts people first.

The online informational resources include links to products and concierge services that may save time and money, thereby reducing stress and strain. Locator tools are available for child care, elder care, summer camps, and counseling, and discounts are offered for things like tax preparation, hearing aids, and emergency response services for elderly family members. In 2013, a mobile application was added, connecting users quickly to resources online and via smartphone.

For individuals who need counseling for more serious concerns, the EAP’s phone counselors assist by warm transferring—a three-way call to a health plan representative from the employee’s medical plan, or their spouse’s plan, to assist in accessing appropriate in-person care. In many cases, the phone-based counselors serve as a first step for people who don’t know where to begin to seek care, and the counselors can help employees or family members find options they were unaware of for treatment.

Ceridian also provides in-person seminars and trainings at larger bank locations, as well as critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) meetings at bank sites that have experienced incidents that could be upsetting to employees, such as robberies or other potentially traumatic experiences. If employees need additional support after such upsets, they may receive up to three in-person individual counseling sessions from Ceridian professionals and/or referral assistance to counselors available in the community or through the employee’s health plan.

Note About EAPs

EAP benefits vary widely depending on the model and services chosen. Some employers have an internal EAP, with counseling provided at the worksite through company-employed clinicians. Others use an external model, contracting with local professionals and/or phone-based counselors. Some provide phone-based and online resources as well as referrals to counseling services through the employee’s health plan or community providers. U.S. Bank uses the latter model, primarily information and referral, with the exception that individual counseling is provided for employees who participate in critical incident stress debriefing sessions (e.g., following a robbery).

​Communication Campaign

The bank had always communicated the availability of EAP, but in 2013, a team of professionals from U.S. Bank and Ceridian joined together to strategize on ways to increase utilization of this resource and to communicate more clearly how the EAP could help. The team, led by Sandi Boller, U.S. Bank’s vice president of human resources, set out to change the image of the service from something aimed only at employees in crisis or with serious mental health/substance use problems. The program is called LifeWorks to show that it could be a helpful resource to all employees and family members experiencing life’s typical challenges.

Boller knows firsthand the value of LifeWorks. She has used the resources herself to help manage life with eight children, 14 grandchildren, a father who had a stroke, and a mother with Alzheimer’s disease. “The decision support and informational resources were very helpful,” Boller says, and made her “all the more eager to increase visibility and access to LifeWorks services.”

Methods of Communication

The communication team made a conscious decision to refer to the service simply as “LifeWorks,” to avoid the potential stigma they felt employees may have had for EAP, seeing it as a resource only for substance abuse treatment or serious mental illness. The goal was to increase employee awareness of the broad array of information and services available to help reduce everyday stress and strain. The communication team developed an enhanced awareness campaign using a variety of communication channels that fit the culture of their company and the typical ways that employees access information at work and at home.

The communications team made good use of U.S. Bank’s tradition of posting daily articles and poll questions on a variety of topics on their intranet. To promote LifeWorks, the team included areas like budgeting, reducing debt, home buying, resilience, memory, concentration, and coping with holiday blues.

The campaign was structured with messages that were consistent and frequent “to keep the service top-of-mind,” shared Boller. “With so many bank locations, our communications had to be targeted and had to fit with our culture. We hit the channels that employees like to use to get company information—intranet and e-mail.” In addition, they used links on multiple company webpages to catch employees’ attention and repeat the messages. The strategy was to focus content on tangible savings and conveniences available to help with day-to-day issues that can impact all aspects of well-being, using a direct, casual, action-oriented, and personal tone.

Campaign Results

To measure the results of the EAP communication campaign, Ceridian aggregated information in two key areas: (1) types of interactions and (2) topics and tools accessed. The data indicate that use of phone interactions have increased each year, and online access increased substantially. Mobile application visits were tracked for the first time in 2013, and increased fivefold by 2014.

Following the initial communication campaign, U.S. Bank saw increased usage in four out of five topic categories. Topics that are not part of the typical perception of an EAP, such as health and money, were subjects they heavily promoted in 2013. Repositioning of LifeWorks from primarily emotional/crisis support to an everyday resource resulted in more employees and family members accessing information, tools, and supports.

Indications of increased engagement in the LifeWorks benefit:

  • 4,214 individuals set up personalized LifeWorks accounts—an eight percent increase,

  • 3,081 unique individuals requested subscriptions to the LifeWorks newsletter,

  • Use of locator search tools (child care, elder care, K-12 school, back-up care, and summer camp) increased by 16 percent,

  • The number of discounts accessed increased 81 percent,

  • 71 percent of survey respondents indicated that a LifeWorks interaction or resource resulted in a time savings of between one and 20 hours.

The success of the 2013 campaign and continued communication support led U.S. Bank to continue many of the same communication strategies: writing with a personal, casual tone; providing relevant examples; and repeating content to solidify awareness of this valuable benefit. The bank has also continued quarterly wellness campaigns and challenges that not only encourage healthier behaviors but also drive traffic to the many other resources, tools, and articles on the LifeWorks website.

The True Value of Teamwork

Collaboration was a key element of the communication team’s efforts to promote and increase use of the LifeWorks program. The team consisted of U.S. Bank’s internal communications staff, representatives from human resources, and members from Ceridian.

The team also worked in collaboration with staff of the bank’s wellness program to incorporate LifeWorks into their initiatives. For example, topics on the wellness calendar drew attention to the variety of ways that LifeWorks supports employees’ and their families’ overall well-being. Hyperlinks to LifeWorks were embedded into the wellness website and in wellness communication campaigns. Some of the links took employees to EAP-hosted videos that communicated the variety of resources available and how to use them. Social media components encouraged employees to discuss various topics and ask questions about LifeWorks resources they had used.

Key team members include:

  • Sandi Boller, Vice President, Human Resources, U.S. Bank

  • Deb Skoglund, Communications Manager, U.S. Bank

  • Mary Jane Konstantin, Senior Vice President, Operations, Ceridian-LifeWorks

  • Tracy Lamberty, Account Executive, Ceridian

  • Craig Gudorf, Marketing, Ceridian

Communicating with Managers

The communication team worked to ensure that managers were aware of the value and breadth of LifeWorks’ services and supports for employees and the ways LifeWorks can support managers in their supervisory role. For example, consultants are available for management support through phone consultation and web-based resources. Throughout the communication campaign, articles were included in the bank’s intranet for managers, Leading US, covering issues like being a family-friendly manager, building a healthy work culture, and developing leadership skills.

Managers may ask questions, get referrals to resources, or access coaching expertise about critical incidents, interpersonal conflicts, mandated referrals, workplace change, supporting employees facing an illness, or other challenging situations in the workplace. In addition, trainers from Ceridian conduct many of the bank's professional and leadership development seminars for managers to proactively educate managers about the importance of considering how employees’ home life issues affect their work.

Employer Takeaways

Consider the following success factors from U.S. Bank’s efforts as you plan your own strategies to enhance the visibility of your EAP:

  • Work with your EAP to ensure that you offer a wide variety of supportive services to meet the daily needs of many employees, not just people in crisis.

  • Review the language used to communicate EAP—remind employees of the different tools and information sources available. Focus on potential savings and convenience for busy families.

  • Drive home personal messages, and use an engaging casual tone in communications to capture employees’ attention.

  • Consider the many opportunities and strategies you can use to communicate EAP services. Consider all of the intranet pages that an employee accesses, and include links to applicable tools, programs, and benefits.

  • Provide leaders and managers with insight into the needs of employees and how EAP can help them with questions they have as managers.

Nancy Spangler, PhD, OTR/L, president of Spangler Associates, Inc., and consultant to the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, is a prevention and health management specialist in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.

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