EAP 101: Maximizing the Value of Your Company’s Employee Assistance Program

CoachHub · 4 January 2023 · 5 min read

The discussion of employee well-being and mental health is at the forefront of the modern corporate world. More organizations than ever showing an interest and making investments in their employee’s overall well-being.

More and more organizations are seeing the value in offering assistance to their employees to improve their personal lives. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an excellent way to discover and cater to the personal needs of your employees so they feel supported by their employer.

EAPs are powerful initiatives to cultivate a positive workplace culture while improving employee engagement, productivity and retention. A healthy and happy individual is a motivated and engaged employee. A workforce can be transformed with expert coaching in leadership, wellness and mental health into a more resilient and inspired team.

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

An Employee Assistance Program is an initiative that offers a range of resources to employees that help them to resolve personal problems. The program assists employees in improving any issues in their personal life that may be affecting their professional life.

When employees are distracted and preoccupied with their worries they cannot perform to their full potential at work. With an effective EAP, employees can get professional help to remove obstacles and deal with any friction that is holding them back.

EAP

An EAP may help employees tackle the following issues:

  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • Child or elder care
  • Relationship challenges
  • Financial or legal problems
  • Wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence
  • Basic legal assistance
  • Marital and family problems
  • Conflicts among co-workers and managers
  • Depression and anxiety

Common services offered through EAPs may be:

  • Assessments of employees’ needs
  • Referrals for diagnosis and treatment of mental health
  • Wellness and mental health coaching
  • Consultation services for managers and supervisors
  • Leadership coaching
  • Training to teach supervisors to recognize issues.
  • Informing employees about healthy lifestyles, stress management and
  • addiction recovery

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How EAPs Work

The process of establishing, promoting and managing an EAP is usually the responsibility of an HR department.

The team responsible for the initiative must become familiar with the needs of their employees as well as the goals of the organization. With a budget set and the top EAPs researched, the team can define the program’s terms and choose a provider. Once the program is defined, clear and regular communication about the resources is vital for its success. Metrics and a process to measure the success of the EAP should also be defined with regular improvements and updates made.

The process for accessing EAP services

When choosing an EAP provider it is important to consider how the EAP provider will work with you and your employees. The most important question to ask is ‘do the specialties of the EAP align with the needs of our employees and the goals of our organization?’

The following factors should also be considered:

  • Scalable: Can we expand if demand increases?
  • Accessibility: Are their services easy to access?
  • Data: Can they provide utilization and progress data
  • Variety: Can they offer a range of resources in various languages?
  • Location: Can they provide remote services?
  • Follow-up: Do they offer check-ins once the service is complete?
  • Credentials and training: Are they accredited in their field?

Confidentiality and privacy considerations

Engagement and participation are likely to be higher when the EAP is strictly confidential. To ensure there is little fear for employees to participate, confidentiality and privacy considerations must be clearly communicated.

Strict confidentiality must be promised, particularly when employees are volunteering to use an EAP service. Should an employer wish to have access to information during the EAP service they must by law receive written permission.

In the case of an employer mandating an employee to participate in an EAP service, an employer may ask to receive feedback about the employee’s participation, attendance and confirmation of their completion of the program. For instance, an employer may mandate an employee to seek counseling for substance abuse and require a negative drug test result and confirmation that they attended and completed the entire program.

 

The Benefits of EAPs

Employees Benefits

  • Access to resources they may not be able to afford
  • Tools for self-improvement that will help them in the long-term
  • Improved work-life balance and overall well-being
  • Strategies to improve mental health
  • Clarity on career goals and trajectory
  • Feeling empowered to improve their personal life
  • Feeling supported by their employer

Employer Benefits

  • Increased productivity and engagement
  • Better employee retention
  • Reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs
  • Improved company culture and reputation
  • Workforce is empowered to work to their full potential
  • Reduces workers’ compensation claims and health care costs
  • Reduce costs related to employee turnover

 

Implementing an EAP

Factors to consider when implementing an EAP:

  • Needs of your employees: What challenges are our employees likely to face?
  • Objectives of your organization: What does our organization hope to achieve?
  • EAPs that can serve both: How can our EAP serve our employees and our organization?
  • Delivery of EAP: Will the services be delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face?
  • Eligibility of EAP: Who will be eligible for EAP resources? Will it be offered to employees’ immediate family members?
  • Policy terms and conditions: What is expected of employees and what is required in order to participate?
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: How do we ensure we comply with the law such as confidentiality regulations?
  • Communication and promotion of EAP: How will the program be communicated to employees and who will be responsible?
  • Measure and track the performance of EAP: How will we measure the effectiveness of the program and how will we collect the data?

Tips for maximizing the value of an EAP

  • Relevance: The EAP must offer the resources that your employees actually need and will make use of.
  • Communication: Employees must be regularly made aware of what is on offer and encouraged to make use of the resources.
  • Fair and available: The EAP must be readily available to all employees regardless of position, rank or location.
  • Variety: There must be a wide range of service providers, resources and delivery methods so the diverse needs of your workforce are catered to.
  • Follow-up: Having a method of receiving feedback, gathering data and measuring success will be vital in making the necessary adjustments to the program as time goes on.

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Conclusion

An effective EAP will contribute to improved employee well-being and company productivity. Offering relevant and valuable resources makes employees feel supported and empowered. Implementing an EAP will enhance the engagement of your workforce and reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs while improving employee retention. Leadership coaching, wellness coaching and counseling services are offerings that create a compassionate and accommodating work environment and will ensure your organization retains and attracts top talent. With 79 percent of surveyed employers now offering an EAP, it is becoming a new workplace norm.

Cathy Stapleton
Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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