What is an EAP?

An Employee Assistance Programme or EAP is a professional psychological service which supports the mental wellness needs of employees and managers/supervisors at the workplace.

As defined by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, EAPs are designed to “improve and/or maintain the productivity and healthy functioning of the workplace and to address a work organization’s particular business needs, through the application of specialized knowledge and expertise about human behaviour and mental health”.

EAP services typically comprise confidential, professional counselling services, mental wellness talks and online resources, an emergency phone hotline, and on-site critical incident response services, as well as management consultation and coaching. Referral to specialist services, active promotion of EAP services, provision of manager/supervisor training on EAP services, and feedback on utilization rate and satisfaction with EAP services are also viewed as essential components of EAPs. For example, the Buyer’s Guide to EAP by the US Employee Assistance Professionals Association and UK EAPA list these as core components, which employers should look for when shopping around for an EAP.

These services help employers manage a variety of employee problems, which can range from job-related concerns such as work stress and burnout, conflict with colleagues or supervisors, ineffective time management, and communication difficulties, to personal issues such as depression, anxiety, grief and loss, addictions, relationship/marital problems, and parenting difficulties. Importantly, EAPs have been shown to improve work productivity and mitigate individual and organizational risk factors which may impact upon workplace productivity.

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