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5 questions you should ask every employee wellbeing provider

Written By
Polly Haselton | Head of Care at Oliva

Shopping around for an employee mental wellbeing benefit to support your team? If they offer 1-to-1 therapy, chances are you’ll see a lot of statements like this:

“All our therapists are highly qualified accredited experts in their relevant fields. We follow a strict screening process to ensure quality control when hiring.”

Companies in this space make bold claims about care quality all the time. 

They all sound good. But unless you’re armed with some clinical knowledge, it’s hard as a buyer to judge whether these claims are real—or just marketing copy.

Choosing the right mental wellbeing support for your team is a big decision. Your team’s mental health is on the line. Picking a provider that cuts corners on care quality—or that doesn’t pay attention to its therapists after hiring them—isn’t just a risk in terms of ROI.

Bad experiences with therapy through an employer-funded provider can:

• Put teammates off trying therapy again for good
• Create cynicism and negativity around your employer brand
• Have a negative impact on a teammate who’s already struggling

That last one is more common than you might think. Here’s Dan on his experience with therapy via an EAP:

Calling my EAP was a horrible experience. I was turned down support because I had a ‘pre existing condition:’ anxiety."

<quote-author>Dan Fitzpatrick<quote-author> | <quote-company>Customer Success Lead at Oliva<quote-company>

On the other hand, going with a provider with genuinely high care standards will mean:

• Faster & more consistent positive clinical outcomes
• Higher engagement rates
• Better cost efficiency—as each session you pay for delivers more impact

So how do you know if a provider is as serious about your people’s mental wellbeing as you are? Here’s 5 questions that will help you find out:

1. Why are you so cheap?

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. If you’re comparing different employee mental wellbeing benefits, you’ll notice two things straight away:

1 - Product offerings look very similar
2 - Prices vary massively

How can one provider offering ‘1-to-1 therapy with highly-qualified experts’ charge £10 per person/year—and another charge £100 per person/year?

Here’s a few answers to this question:

• Only providing short 30 minute sessions instead of 60 minutes
• Employees are discouraged from using the service—maybe they see a different therapist each time or therapists are told not to recommend more sessions
• Proper therapy courses are only given to people who are in a really bad place

These are some of the examples. We’ll get into more later in the article.

All these tactics are bad practice from a clinical standpoint. I would never run a practice where any of this was allowed to happen.

Think about it: therapy sessions cost £50-100 each. If you’re being quoted £10 per employee/year, something doesn’t add up. Either care quality is being heavily compromised, or their business model depends on your employees not using the service.

So next time one provider is charging half the price of another, it’s worth asking why. 

“If a price seems too good to be true—it probably is."

<quote-author>Dr. Sarah Bateup<quote-author> | <quote-company>Chief Clinical Officer at Oliva<quote-company>

2. Do you take clinical responsibility for our employees?

‘Clinical responsibility’ is a commitment to ethical standards, laws, and regulations governing therapy as a practice. It's like a set of guardrails that not only makes sure therapists are doing their job properly—but also protects both them and their clients.

At Oliva, we share clinical responsibility for your employees with our therapists. In practice, this means we:

• Have our own processes to measure, monitor, and flag employees that could be at risk
• Provide a consistent, high standard of clinical support to our therapists: they can call our senior care team for urgent advice any time
• Store all session notes securely on our own encrypted servers
• Communicate with other healthcare professionals supporting the employee when needed, e.g. their psychiatrist or doctor

We do this because we want to do everything we can to keep your employees safe. 

But not all providers do the same. Many don't take any clinical responsibility for your employees—leaving it down to the individual therapists they contract instead. 

This puts your employees at risk:

• Therapists are left to judge and deal with at-risk employees themselves—provider has no oversight over what they do in this situation
• No clinical support provided to therapists: they have to rely on their own resources and contacts
• Lack of security around storing clinical notes, which is a legal and confidentiality risk

The last point is especially worrying. Let’s say an employee complains about their therapist: the provider will be completely reliant on the therapist producing accurate notes when requested. 

These notes could be edited by the therapist, or not exist at all—and this isn’t uncommon without proper protocols. Failing to keep clinical notes will invalidate the therapist's liability insurance, which is a massive problem if an employee makes a claim against them.

There’s also the risk of therapy notes with extremely personal information ending up in the wrong hands—and this has actually happened with a major employee wellbeing provider.

Do you want to take that chance?

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3. How do you match employees with the right therapists?

One of the biggest obstacles people have with therapy? Finding the right therapist for them.

Here’s how it normally goes:

You Google ‘therapy in my town.’ Go to a clunky website with an endless list of names and faces. Each specialises in something you’ve never heard of. You have no idea what you’re looking for. But you’re not feeling great, so you pick someone and hope for the best.

The result: only 1 in 3 people end up sticking with their first therapist. Time and money gets wasted on sessions that aren't useful. And someone who’s already struggling has to go back to square one.

Some employee mental wellbeing providers work like this. They give your employees access to an online therapist marketplace, and leave your employees to scroll through and decide who’s right for them.

Not only is this proven to result in poor matches and bad experiences—but your company will also pay for the wasted sessions while your employees try out different therapists.

So ask the providers you’re comparing: what’s your employee <> therapist matching process?

If they don’t have one, it might say something about their commitment to giving your employees a positive experience. It might also be another answer to the ‘Why are you so cheap?’ question…

If they do—listen carefully. Not all matching processes are equal. Here’s a quick guide:

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At Oliva, we’ve spent countless hours refining our matching process. Our first-time therapist match success rate is 97%.

This keeps wasted sessions to a minimum and gets employees the support they need, faster. Like Jonathan:

“Oliva paired me with an incredible therapist who supported me in overcoming both daily challenges and turmoil from my past.”
- Jonathan | Oliva user

4. How do you measure clinical outcomes?

Or even more important—’do you measure clinical outcomes at all?’

This might sound like a no-brainer, but some employee wellbeing providers don’t track therapy outcomes. They just give your people access to therapists, and hope for the best.

Without measuring clinical outcomes, it's impossible to know if a therapist is effective. Employees won’t be able to tell either way. They could assume therapy doesn’t work for them, and give up. 

From a business standpoint, supporting your staff’s mental wellbeing by paying for their therapy is an investment. If a provider can’t show you concrete data on the impact it's having—how can you know if your investment is working?

“If a provider doesn’t measure clinical outcomes—how can you know if your investment in employee wellbeing is working?”

<quote-author>Dr. Sarah Bateup<quote-author> | <quote-company>Chief Clinical Officer at Oliva<quote-company>

At Oliva, we track outcomes by using validated clinical measures like the GAD 7 and PHQ 9.

This means we can: 

• Measure the severity of each case and make sure the employee gets the right level of support
• Monitor how treatment is progressing and provide support to therapists when employees don’t seem to be improving as expected
• See when an employee has made reliable and significant improvement
• Provide data reports for companies we partner with to show how their employees are doing 
• Tell if our therapists are working effectively 

You can check all this information any time in your real-time data dashboard within the platform. No need to ask us every time you want to see how things are going.

Other providers might use more informal measures like NPS surveys to measure progress. This is better than nothing—but not backed by proper clinical research.

5. How do you monitor and provide feedback to your therapists?

A lot of employee wellbeing providers talk about a rigorous selection process when hiring therapists.

But if they’re really serious about quality care, hiring the right therapists is just the beginning (literally).

At Oliva, we have an in-house team of senior clinical experts who constantly monitor and give feedback to our therapists.

They do this by:

• Keeping an eye on key performance metrics like Reliable Improvement
• Checking therapy session notes
• Making sure every therapist attends in-house free clinical supervision

That last one is super important. Clinical supervision is basically a support system for therapists, a bit like a mentorship. A more experienced therapist guides and advises a less experienced one with specific challenges and cases. 

This has a big impact on your employees. Clinical supervision isn't just a formality—it actually makes therapy better. It's like having an extra set of eyes to catch things.

Attending clinical supervision is mandatory for all therapists at Oliva. Normally therapists have to arrange it themselves and pay for it. We offer it for free.

Not all providers make clinical supervision mandatory, and few provide it in-house. 

The risks with providers not overseeing clinical supervision are:

• Therapists wouldn’t attend because they’d have to pay themselves
• Impossible to do quality control as therapists won’t receive proper feedback from a team with a shared, consistent ethos
• Therapists miss blind spots, get stuck in their own perspectives, or even burn out

Running a mental wellbeing service without looking after the whole therapist lifecycle is a massive risk.

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It leads to slower clinical outcomes, wasted sessions, and failing to catch rogue therapists who could put your employees at risk.

If your employee wellbeing provider isn’t paying attention to what your therapists are doing and setting them up for success—who knows what could happen? 

You can’t afford to cut corners on employee wellbeing

Your team’s mental health is one of the best investments you can make. With more and more employee mental wellbeing platforms and solutions appearing all the time, making the right choice can be difficult.

But getting it wrong can be costly—both for your people, and your business. It’s quite simple: what’s best for one is also best for the other.

Want to learn more about how Oliva could benefit your team and your business? Get in touch here.

Oliva therapist photograph

by Oliva therapist