An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential source of support and resources for employees facing certain challenges. It is typically provided as part of a broader benefits package and connects employees to evaluations, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services. An EAP treats workers as individuals and supports them and their families through difficult times. It helps employees resolve problems outside of work through counseling, which improves their mental state and happiness, boosting morale.
Even if they don't use all of the EAP services your company offers, knowing that your employer cares enough to provide them can increase their commitment to your company. Investing in employee well-being can generate greater returns for companies in the long term. As a result, EAPs, even with low utilization, generally show a positive return on investment (ROI) regardless of company size. For many compelling reasons that attract both employers and employees, an employee assistance program is a powerful workplace benefit.
In-house EAPs are generally only offered by large corporations with the resources needed to manage the services offered. These professionals can be direct employees of the company or they can be employees of an EAP provider that has been hired to provide on-site services in the workplace. All EAPs offer a predetermined number of counseling sessions, usually one to three, at no cost to the employee to fully evaluate the problem before recommending a resource, therapist, or service to the employee. Generally, an organization offers employee assistance programs at little or no cost.
Many EAPs will also send a representative to their office to participate in an open-enrollment benefit information session or a wellness fair to talk to their employees about the program. Managers and human resources staff are generally not trained to provide therapy or advice to employees, and an EAP provides them with a way to help an employee without rejecting an employee in need. Instead, these reports show you how many employees are taking advantage of your program and how they are using it. Under this structure, an employee can meet with an in-house employee assistance professional if the location is convenient.
An external program provides employees and their family members with access to a toll-free number for admission to the service. Employee assistance programs are one of the ways companies try to support the well-being of team members and can be a cost-effective way to add value to your employee experience.