3 min read

What To Look For When Choosing An Employee Assistance Program

May 23, 2016 6:30:00 AM

EAP.jpgIn the war for talent, any benefit you can offer that employees will find useful can help set you apart. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an affordable offering to consider.

There are often personal matters going on in your employees’ lives – divorce, financial stress, anxiety, depression, and more – that keep them from focusing on their work, physical health, and overall wellbeing. EAPs can provide assistance through counseling and other resources to help improve the quality of life, on and off the job, for your employees.

When you are trying to find the right EAP vendor for your organization what should you look for? We’d encourage you to pay close attention to the services offered and the intake process – both are critical to finding a program that will be effective for your people.

Services Offered

The services offered through EAPs can be quite diverse, but they generally fall into 3 buckets – personal support for individuals, consultation and training for management, and critical incident response. When considering what EAP is best suited for your organization, make sure to think about your employees and your leadership. What services would they find most valuable? What would resonate with them?

Personal support for individuals – EAPs generally offer counseling services, work/life benefits, and/or other tools and resources to help individuals address a variety of life concerns such grief, stress, depression, marital and family issues, financial worries, substance abuse, work-related difficulties, life transitions, and more.

  • What types of counseling sessions are available – face-to-face? Telephone?
  • What does the program’s network of clinicians look like? Do they have providers close to all of your business’ locations? Are a variety of specialties represented?
  • Do they offer online support tools? Do these tools address a variety of concerns – mental health, wellbeing, family issues, financial stress, and more? Are they easy to access?

Consultation and training for management - Some EAPs will offer tools and training to help your managers and supervisors better understand a range of workplace issues that may be impacting employee wellbeing and performance. This could be onsite training, education resources, assessment tools, and more.

Critical Incident Response – Workplace violence, tragic accidents, the death of an employee, robberies, and other disasters can be emotionally overwhelming to those involved or who witnessed the incident. Some EAPs offer services to help your organization and your employees respond after an incident occurs. As an employer you don’t ever want to need this service and not have a plan in place. When crisis strikes, you won’t have time to stop, think, and vet a provider. So don’t overlook this service when comparing EAP options!


Intake Process

It can often be challenging for individuals to take that first step, to call in to the EAP, so you want the intake process to be comfortable and welcoming for your employees and their families.

  • The person who answers the call plays a big role. Does that person work for the vendor or are they outsourced? What kind of training do they have? Do they have counseling, social work, or other relevant experience or are they call center staff?
  • How is an individual matched with a provider? Do they take time to fully understand the counseling needed, the level of expertise required, and what type of person would make the individual most comfortable?
  • When can individuals call in – 24/7 or only during designated times?
  • How soon will individuals receive assistance? What is the typical timeframe for an appointment to be scheduled? In the case of a life threatening concern, can the vendor arrange for more immediate assistance?

EAPs require minimal investment yet can provide substantial benefits to your employees. Take time to learn about the services offered and the intake process when deciding which program is best suited for your people.


Written by Gibson

Gibson is a team of risk management and employee benefits professionals with a passion for helping leaders look beyond what others see and get to the proactive side of insurance. As an employee-owned company, Gibson is driven by close relationships with their clients, employees, and the communities they serve. The first Gibson office opened in 1933 in Northern Indiana, and as the company’s reach grew, so did their team. Today, Gibson serves clients across the country from offices in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.