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 to employees who are experiencing difficulties in their lives that affect their productivity at work. At a minimum, an EAP offers psychological assistance, but it can also be used to provide guidance for legal, family, or financial concerns. The EAP can be seen as an intervention solution that helps 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 specifically address marital and family problems, interpersonal relationships, those at risk of burnout, or those related to excessive alcohol and drug use, and more. Cooperation with other professionals and targeted advice on problem solving. This support package is strictly confidential and voluntary. It is important to emphasize that the EAP takes a protective approach to the interests of both the employee and the company. 

How does an EAP work?

Typically, referrals to the EAP are made in three different ways. First, it may be a case of the employee calling for help directly to the service, in confidence. The manager or supervisor may also make a recommendation to refer the employee to an EAP. Finally, the third case involves a referral made by the manager when he or she sees a significant decline in the employee's productivity. Despite the employer's recommendation, confidentiality is maintained and the interviews are never revealed.  

In general, indications 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 about the EAP and can ask for help and advice. 

If the problem is psychological in origin, most EAPs offer treatment by 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). The person is free to continue with individual follow-up. However, some EAPs focus on "cognitive-behavioral therapy" type interventions, which have a solid scientific basis and allow for rapid improvements after only a few sessions. 

EAP is not covered by Medicare. Therefore, the EAP must be fully covered by the employer. 

What are the benefits of an EAP?

An EAP has many benefits for employers, such as reduced medical costs, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity within the company. It also provides a tangible benefit that is greatly appreciated while reinforcing the image of an employer who takes care of its employees. An EAP helps both the employee and his or her employees by reducing risks, improving the quality of work life and providing security for the team. 

More specifically, an EAP is beneficial in that it : 

  • Is easily accessible to employees 
  • Delivers an instantaneous response resulting in an initial session 
  • Is professional since the team is composed 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 is highly dependent on the mindset of the employee and the team in which he or she is integrated. Therefore, promoting a culture of mental health, assistance and support for your employees is necessary for the success of your business, and the proper management of psychosocial risks.

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