What is an EAP?

December 02, 2020 | Workplace wellbeing

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What does EAP stand for?

EAP stands for employee assistance program. EAP services are work-based intervention programs to assist employees to maintain and improve their wellbeing in an increasingly complex world. A focus on proactive and preventative measures can improve workplace culture, and bring awareness and understanding to the issues surrounding work/life balance and mental health. Accessing your EAP program is voluntary and confidential, and can involve counselling and the provision of resources to help employees with any number of issues, work related or otherwise. EAP services tend to focus on short term counselling to address problems from minor issues to complex conditions, and if long term support is required, the EAP program can assist in transferring to other therapy options outside of the EAP.

Why are EAP programs important?

The main aim of an EAP is to improve the wellbeing of employees by addressing issues that may or may not be impacting performance at work. IBIS World’s EAP Services – Australia Market Research Report from 2018 shows an increase in demand for EAP services since 2012 due to workers who have used EAP programs recognising the benefits of the programs – improved wellbeing and better focus on tasks, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism – and ensuring that their employees are awarded the same benefits.

Impact of COVID-19 on EAP Services

Despite an increase in unemployment rates, it is projected that more people will require EAP services due to the growing number of people under stress, or in isolation and working remotely, and changes in workload and income due to COVID-19. EAP programs are continuing to offer services remotely, via phone or video counselling, or online chat and email discussions. EAP services also provide resources online through blogs, webinars, and wellbeing apps.

What kind of issues can my EAP provider help with?

EAP counselling is available for any number of issues, regardless of the perceived importance. Sometimes employees don’t access support because they think the problem can be solved alone, or that they don’t want to waste the time of the counsellor. EAP counselling is always available to help all employees regardless of their starting point and can be viewed as getting a physical check up from your GP. Most people can benefit from counselling in some way or another, and therapy can help provide a sense of direction to work through any issues that may or may not be workplace related, such as:

  • Personal issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Workplace relationships
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Managing conflict
  • Substance abuse
  • Gambling
  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger management
  • Returning to work
  • Managing a disability or medical issue at work
  • Grief and loss
  • Legal advice
  • Financial counselling

Who does the EAP cover?

EAP services and counselling are extended to all employees of a company and can often cover immediate family members of the employees as well.

How do EAP programs work?

EAP programs offer support through a wide variety of services, including:

  • Digital EAP platforms to develop tools to increase resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy.
  • Voluntary and confidential counselling is available 24/7 for anything from minor problems to complex issues, through either phone, video, or face-to-face therapy, and email and online chat communications. Counselling can be accessed through calling the toll-free number or accessing the EAP website. Be prepared to give your name and organisation, which remains confidential, but your company name will tell the EAP provider what services have been arranged for your specific company. Most often, counselling is intended to be short term with the option to be referred back to the community if ongoing support is required.
  • Resources for managers to be the leaders of change in the company, through understanding and supporting employee wellbeing and learning how to have tough conversations. Managers also receive de-identified aggregated data to help understand areas of the workplace that may be causing stress to employees and company culture.
  • Extra resources and information on wellbeing and mental health, for example, blogs and webinars covering topics like Self Esteem, Improving Sleep, Stress Management, and Forming Healthy Habits.
  • Critical incident responses for stressful events such as workplace incidents, accidents, deaths, and associated trauma. EAP programs will provide assistance in these situations by organising group or individual therapy sessions for those affected, mobilising experienced psychologists to the workplace, or ensuring adequate support is available on hand in a timely manner.

Are EAP programs confidential?

Yes, EAP services have a strict level of confidentiality. If an employee decides to access counselling, their managers and the rest of the company will not know who has accessed support, how often they call, or what was discussed in the session. Whilst the employer pays for the service, they do not have a specific insight into how individual employees utilise the service.

Are EAP services free?

EAP services are free to the employee and their immediate family members. The company pays for the services and actually receive a positive return on investment (ROI) of 5-10x the investment. This is because happy employees have increased productivity, reduced presenteeism and absenteeism, and thus increased profitability. The best EAP services are proactive and preventative programs that build a culture of wellness in the company, reducing the costs of poor mental health. This looks like reduced costs related to stress, absenteeism, presenteeism, underperformance, turnover, insurance claims, and insurance premium increases.

What are the qualifications of the counsellors in EAP programs?

Not all EAP programs were created equal. With the current influx of programs comes a varying degree of quality. There are even free EAP services, however when it comes to wellbeing, you tend to get what you pay for. Many of these free services may have lower standards for their counsellors. You might be talking to graduate students who lack the experience to deal with complex scenarios that can be presented in the workplace. Good EAP providers will have requirements for their counsellors to be registered psychologists/counsellors with a few years of clinical experience in the industry as well.


Uprise is a proactive employee assistance program (EAP) provider that improves employee engagement, retention and performance by enhancing psychological wellbeing.

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