November 22, 2022

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

What is an Employee Assistance Program? 

The EAP is a short-term assistance program for all employees and their immediate family members. It provides support for employees who are experiencing difficulties in their lives that are affecting their productivity at work. At the very least, it offers psychological assistance, but an EAP can also intervene to provide guidance for legal, family or financial concerns. The EAP can be seen as an intervention solution helping to identify and act on problems. 

In some situations, the employee is in such difficulty that he or she can jeopardize the operation of the company. An EAP can deal specifically with marital and family problems, interpersonal relationships, people at risk of burnout, or those linked to excessive alcohol and drug consumption, to name but a few. Cooperation with other professionals and targeted advice on problem-solving. This support package is strictly confidential and voluntary. It is important to stress that the EAP takes a protective approach to the interests of both the employee and the company. 

How does an EAP work?

Referrals to the EAP are generally made in one of three ways. Firstly, it may be a case of the employee appealing for help directly to the service, on a confidential basis. The manager or supervisor may also make a recommendation to refer the employee in question to an EAP. Finally, the third case concerns a recommendation made by the manager when he or she notices a considerable drop in the employee's productivity. In spite of the employer's recommendation, confidentiality is preserved and the interviews are never revealed.  

As a general rule, signs of risk (e.g. burnout), when identified by the manager, can be reported to the Human Resources department. The employee will then receive appropriate information on the EAP and can ask for help and advice. 

If the problem is psychological in origin, most EAPs offer the services of an appropriate psychologist, managed by a case manager. The intervention included in the EAP varies according to the agreement with the employer, and may include full or partial financial coverage, for a certain number of sessions (usually 5 or 6). Individuals are free to continue their treatment on their own. However, some EAPs focus on "cognitive-behavioral therapy" type interventions, which have a solid scientific basis and enable rapid improvement after just a few sessions. 

EAP is not covered by health insurance. The EAP must therefore be fully paid for by the employer. 

What are the benefits of an EAP?

An EAP offers numerous advantages for employers, such as reduced medical costs, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity within the company. It also offers a much-appreciated tangible benefit, while reinforcing the image of an employer who takes care of its staff. An EAP helps both the employee and his or her staff by reducing risks, improving quality of life at work and ensuring a certain level of safety for the team. 

More specifically, an EAP is advantageous in that it : 

  • Easy access for employees 
  • Delivers an instant, comprehensive response, resulting in an initial session 
  • Is professional, since the team is made up of qualified psychologists and experts
  • Is confidential and takes place outside the office: the employer is not informed when a particular employee calls on the service. 

An EAP can be considered beneficial and successful when it is easily accessible, provides a good assessment of the situation, and gives an effective response. The quality of the work depends heavily on the state of mind of the employee and the team within which he or she is integrated. In this respect, promoting a culture open to mental health, assistance and support for your employees is necessary for the success of your business, and the proper management of psycho-social risks.

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