What is an Employee Assistance Program or EAP?
An employee assistance program is a resource offered to most employees that assists them to manage personal or professional issues. Typically, an employee assistance program offers employees a number of counselling, therapy or coaching sessions with a registered psychologist. This may be delivered over the phone or face to face.
What do employees expect from an EAP provider?
An employee assistance program is usually offered by an external EAP provider. This brings with it a range of expectations that employees have of the service and experience in general.
One of the benefits of having an external EAP provider if that employees can have peace of mind that their conversations will remain confidential. Employees expect that their use of the service and the content of their conversations with an EAP provider will remain private.
2. Clear information on where to go and who to ask for support
Although many employers offer an EAP provider to their employees, it can be easily forgotten or under-utilized by employees. Typically, only 5% of employees use EAP services. This number is significantly lower than the expected 1 in 5 employees who may be experiencing a mental health issue each year.
To combat this under-utilization, employers should communicate clearly the range of ways that employees can access support. Employees expect to be able to access support in more ways than one, so employers should educate them on these methods including a phone line, web forms, app bookings and via HR. By giving individuals many different ways to access the service they may be more likely to reach out when they need it.
3. Fast access to counselling
Employees expect rapid support when they need it. EAP providers should have a 24/7 phone line that provides immediate crisis support if required.
When booking in a therapy session, employees expect to book within 24 hours. However, most employee assistance programs can take up to 8 days before sessions are available. Enquire with your employee assistance program as to their average wait times to assess its performance compared to other EAP providers.
4. Personal development and training
As the job market becomes more competitive, employees are looking to the professional development opportunities within the workplace. EAP providers are beginning to offer more tailored development and capability building programs that build the productivity and mental health literacy of employees.
These programs include personal mental fitness skills such as mindset training, mindfulness, stress management and acceptance. Managers can also gain access to training in mental health awareness, wellbeing conversations, wellness action plans and broader initiatives.