What is an Employee Assistance Program?

People don’t live in Silos, as Aristotle correctly said and later proved by Darwin and Spencer, that man is a social animal. What happens at home usually affects them at the office, and work-related issues have proven to have a bearing on their personal lives as well. An Employee Assistance Program is one way of helping employees in dealing with any personal and/or professional problem that one may be undergoing. It is quick and cheap. The United States Office of Personnel Management defines Employee Assistance Program – “An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.”


Essentially, the idea is to give a little help to any employee going through emotional and/or mental problems like stress, substance abuse, or office problems. EAP is completely financed by the company and is usually clubbed in the employee benefits package provided by the company to its employees. Confidentiality is the key element of EAP, so even though the company pays for the service the boss can never know the details of any session of its employees. It is this confidentiality that makes EAP so successful. The company recognizes if an employee is going through a tough time it suggests the employee use the benefit of EAP. It helps them to cope through difficult times, these could be a wide range of problems at home such as relationships concerns, marriage, kids, grief, loss, financial and legal. It could also be something personal such as someone having an alcohol or drug abuse problem. EAP also helps employees in dealing with any psychological problem that an employee may be undergoing such as stress, trauma, or depression. Or it could help them in a speedy recovery from a physiological problem such as an illness or injury. It also helps them in dealing with any office related problem

Another key feature of EAP is the provision of referral. If an employee requires further consultations from an expert then the EAP counselor refers them to the necessary experts. Furthermore, it guides employee with all kinds of preventive issues – advising employees on physical and mental wellness, nutritional guidance and healthy lifestyle choices

 EAP doesn’t cost much but it has immense benefits for employers such as higher attendance and retention rate of employees, fewer work-related injuries, and fewer labor disputes, and a general increase in productivity. But the most important advantage of EAP is the early detection of any medical condition of an employee and therefore reduced medical costs in the future.

How EAP usually works is that there is a dedicated EAP hotline 24X7 available, thus there is no waiting period. There is also no requirement of any paperwork to access the hotline. This makes it easier for employees to access EAP services. The employee can contact the counselor directly and begin counseling in just a few days, it’s quick and easy. This helps diffuse any emotional crisis an employee may be developing.

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