Choosing an EAP

Not all EAPs are created equal. Finding the right EAP to fit your organization is important. Here is a list of the critical components of an employee assistance program to help you choose what’s right for you. A comprehensive, integrated EAP service should be able to customize a package appropriate for the needs of your organization, management, and employees and their dependents.  

EAP Services for the Individual: (Clinical Services)

24-hour crisis telephone response

Professional EAP counselors provide live, immediate telephone crisis counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A toll-free number should be provided.

Confidential Assessment and Counseling Services

Licensed, professional counselors provide assessment and brief, solution-focused counseling in a private and safe location.  Some EAP’s are located on-site at the workplace making access to services less comfortable. Off-site EAP’s deliver a private, safe space to ensure privacy and approachability.

Also, check with the EAP to find out who determines whether the employee should see a counselor face-to-face or telephonically. Some EAPs make this determination rather than giving the choice to the client.

Emergency Intervention / Crisis Support Onsite 

Onsite crisis support is provided to impacted employees in a timely fashion for Crisis Support Onsite with group sessions and individual onsite mental health support, as well as crisis response needs for management. A strong EAP will partner with you to provide crucial strategic management support.

Substance Abuse Expertise

Given its significant impact on the workplace, EAP providers should have specific knowledge, training, and experience in the assessment and treatment of chemical dependency and other addictions.

Dependent and Domestic Partner Coverage

Comprehensive EAP services are typically provided for all eligible employees. Many EAPs serve dependents as well.

Guaranteed Confidential Recordkeeping

EAP client records should be guaranteed complete privacy and protection. Employers, insurance companies or healthcare entities should have no access to EAP records. EAP records and all related private health information should be maintained in accordance with state and federal laws and the Employee Association Professional Association guidelines. 
EAP Services for the Organization: 

EAP Orientation for all Employees

Onsite EAP orientations should be offered for all managers and employees. 

Supervisory-Leadership Training

Comprehensive training for managers and supervisors regarding use of effective management skills in the workplace. Training may be delivered in a variety of formats, and cover topics such as effective supervisory skills, performance-based identification of troubled employees, the EAP management referral process, and consultation with the EAP.

Program promotion

An EAP is there to provide help to employees when they need it most. Regular promotion of the program will help employees remember the various services it provides. The EAP should offer regular promotional and educational materials such as payroll inserts, newsletters, fliers, posters, brownbag training programs, participation at benefits fairs, and supervisory orientations. Be sure they spell out what is included and what's available for an additional charge. 

EAP Policy Development and Coordination

The EAP should be available to consult with management regarding the development of EAP policy statements, coordination with related policies and services, coordination with risk management activities, need for onsite training programs and other support activities.

Management Communication and Consultation

Employers who get the most out of their EAP understand that it is both a benefit for employees, and a strategic tool to help supervisors and managers better manage employees. Employees coping with personal problems can experience performance problems and disrupt other employees. Ask whether the EAP trains supervisors and managers to recognize and assist troubled employees. 

Program Utilization Reports

Regular reporting and feedback is essential to allow employers to assess whether the program is being utilized sufficiently and effectively.
Quarterly, semi-annual or annual utilization reports are provided and include information on use of EAP services such as number of clients, gender, type of benefit used, number of clients, and cause of seeking counseling. This information is valuable so the organization can see trends and address those trends if needed.
Reports should not identify individual employees or their treatment. Anonymity is guaranteed so that employees feel comfortable accessing counseling services without fear of any repercussions. 

EA Program Evaluation

Comprehensive, customized EAP service outcome reports should be provided which track key success indicators, including return on investment.

Client/Company Satisfaction Evaluation

Customized client and organization satisfaction reports should be provided.

Supplemental EAP Service Components

EAP providers may add value by delivering additional services that are separate from – but often linked with – EAP services. These are considered supplemental services, not replacements for critical EAP components.

A comprehensive array of employee and family support services, education programs and referrals for a wide range of personal and family needs can be offered by EAPs as add-on services in conjunction with the EAP service package. Adding other supplemental components may provide additional value for your organization, but don’t allow such services to be substituted for – or conflict with - your core EAP service package.

Some EAPs offer legal consultation or financial counseling such as credit counseling, budgeting, debt management, and bankruptcy counseling with financial experts. Often, emotional issues can accompany debt, such as depression, relationship strife, stress, anxiety, and substance abuse. If financial counseling is offered, check to make sure counselors within the network only provide impartial advice and aren’t offering products to sell.  

EAP for small businesses

Small businesses that have difficulty finding coverage may want to contact the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) to find small business EAP providers in their area . As an alternative, small businesses can join an association or consortium that offers group EAP services for their members.
For more information on how to select an EAP that’s right for you, check out these two guides:

Selecting and Strengthening Employee Assistance Programs: A Purchasers Guide

EAP Buyer’s Guide from the Employee Assistance Professionals Association