One reason might be that EA professionals work so hard at being confidential and keeping everything private that they have never learned how to really promote all the good work they do. Here are some suggestions for raising awareness of the EA profession without breaching confidentiality with clients:
* Learn how you can become an expert on a workplace issue(s). As a former newspaper reporter I can attest to how much this tip can help. Media love having area professionals they can contact to localize stories on important workplace, behavioral, and related topics. Meet with local media and let them know you are available for an interview, comment, or quote when your area of expertise is in the news. Or what about writing a column for a local newspaper about important mental health and related subjects? The free exposure will raise awareness of the EA profession, and your individual EAP. It’s a win-win!
* Get on a local speaking circuit. Don’t only hang out with EAP colleagues. Utilize Chamber of Commerce, civic groups (think Lions, Rotary, etc.) and others to raise awareness of a particular mental health or other issue or about EAP in general. In the former example, you can capture a great deal of attention by being seen as a reliable source of credible information. In the latter, you may be making people aware of EAP who wouldn’t have thought about using it.
* Network everywhere and with everyone. People frequently think of networking only at events such as Chamber of Commerce and professional association gatherings, like conferences. But some of the most productive business comes from chance encounters – at the grocery store, at ball games, doctor’s offices, etc. It’s important to be alert to these possibilities, and be ready to explain the services that you offer. Do you have a “30-second elevator speech?” You never know when it can come in handy!
Employee assistance professionals do a LOT of good in workplaces – and even on the scene at critical incidents. Shouldn’t more people be aware of your unsung profession? (Many thanks to a friend in employee assistance for her suggestions in revising and re-posting this post. You know who you are!)