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July 14, 2020 Amelia Wilcox

Employee Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions

What Is An EAP?

An Employee Assistance Program or EAP is a workplace program that employees can participate in voluntarily. They typically offer confidential resources and counseling for everything from stress, grief, and physiological disorders, to addiction and even anger management. EAPs help address issues before they impact an employee’s ability to work productively. They are there to make sure employees receive care before issues impact their job performance. 

EAPs were initially created to help employees with alcohol and drug abuse issues in the late 1930s. Over time, they’ve developed to support employees experiencing a wide range of issues. In our ever-changing work environments, with COVID-19 introducing growing issues such as anxiety, relationship issues, traumatic events and other emergency response situations, effective programs needed to grow to address a wide range of topics. Employee assistance programs now even assist with financial and legal related issues.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should an Employee Use the EAP?

Employee assistance program costs are typically covered by companies whether their staff is using them or not. So there’s no reason not to use an EAP! Whether you’re experiencing a true crisis, or could just use someone to talk to, using the services that are provided by your company can help. 

What kind of Problems can an EAP Help With?

Employee assistance programs cover a wide range of services, and address all sorts of issues, from mental health to financial help.

  • substance abuse
  • occupational stress
  • emotional distress
  • grief counseling
  • life events (ie. pandemics, births, accidents, deaths)
  • health care anxieties
  • financial 
  • legal
  • family/personal relationship problems
  • work relationship issues

How Much Does an EAP Cost? 

EAPs are covered by the company — so they are at no cost to the employee! Because employee assistance programs are designed to help keep employees working, and provide support before issues affect their ability to work, companies invest in these programs for their staff. 

Are EAPs Confidential? 

When you need help, you may not be comfortable letting anyone you work with know that you’re having a hard time. That’s why EAPs are designed to be completely confidential. Employees counseling sessions are not reported back to their employer, and that makes it easier for staff to feel comfortable getting the support they need.

Who can use an EAP?

If a company has chosen to invest in an employee assistance program, that EAP is open to all employees. Many EAPs are also open to members of an employee’s immediate family.

What Are the EAP Counselors’ Credentials?

When you decide to use your company’s EAP, you likely want to be sure that your counselor is well qualified! Luckily, Employee assistance programs typically require a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling, psychology or social work. They also need to be fully licensed as mental health professionals in the state (or states) that they are practicing in. 

Since EAPs cover a wide range of topics and types of issues, your company may offer counselors with additional certifications. Some practitioners will also be certified in substance abuse counseling, relationship therapy, yoga, meditation and so much more! 

Is There a Set Number of Counseling Sessions Per Employee?

Typically, counseling for employee assistance programs lasts about three to six sessions. If an employee’s issue needs longer term treatment, or is more severe, most EAPs offer staff a referral network that will connect employees with additional care. Employee assistance counselors are trained to identify situations where employees need additional care. They will assess the employee and determine the best way to help provide support for their problem.

employee assistance program frequently asked questions

Can Family Members Use the EAP?

Yes! Though every EAP has its own stipulations for what qualifies as a family member. 

Will Using an EAP Affect My Job?

EAPs normally do not report any personal information about a specific employee’s use of the assistance program. In most cases, your employee assistance program will keep all of your information private from your employer. However, there are occasional exceptions to this. If an employee has an issue or condition that could put themselves in danger, a supervisor may in that case be notified. 

What Are Some Problems with Traditional EAPs?

While EAPs were originally designed as a way to provide support to employees in need, they have become a business model that benefits their own bottom line more than the companies they serve. A typical EAP charges companies a set rate per employee per month. This means the EAP will be more profitable the less they are used. So there’s no benefit for these traditional EAPs to recruit employees. Many employees have no idea that this service is even offered by their company. And traditional EAPs want to keep it that way. 

In fact, the average utilization rate for EAPs is only 4.5 percent! A program that isn’t used just isn’t that helpful. Luckily, new online options are emerging with payment structures that are designed to actually benefit the employee (NOT the EAP!).  

Are EAP Services Available After Business Hours?

EAPs are typically available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What Factors Should an Employer Consider before Buying an EAP?

When an employer is considering investing in an EAP for their staff, here are a few things to consider:

  • What types of counseling services are available? 
  • How are counseling sessions arranged — is there an easy online portal, or is the process complicated?
  • How are the counseling services conducted — are they in-person? Via telephone? Video conferencing calls?
  • Do they offer counseling providers in all of your business locations?
  • Are their counseling practitioners highly certified and vetted?
  • Do they offer data reporting and analytics on utilization rates?
  • Do they offer online support tools for remote teams?

How Does a Company Track EAP Utilization?

Wondering how your company tracks EAP utilization? Because of confidentiality, they won’t know if you specifically are using the employee assistance program. However, they can track how many people from their company are using the service, with utilization reports provided by their EAP. This data helps show that the program is worth the investment! 

Are EAP Services Subject to HIPPA?

Employee assistance programs that provide medical care are subject to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). These laws are in place so that sensitive medical information cannot be disclosed without a patient’s knowledge or consent. Employers that use EAPs are responsible for complying with these laws too. 

What are EAPs ROI?

 

  • Lower health care costs
  • Fewer disability claims
  • Less absenteeism
  • Higher productivity and focus
  • Improved employee morale
  • Fewer workplace accidents
  • Higher retention (saves the cost of hiring and training a replacement)

 

Now that you’re well informed about everything that EAPs offer, you may be wondering — does my workplace have an EAP? And if so, is that EAP really working for me? 

A great employee assistance program can mean lower turnover rates, higher levels of job satisfaction, decreased absenteeism and an overall happier and healthier work environment. So if your EAP just isn’t cutting it (or you didn’t even know you had one until now!) reach out.

We’ll match your EAPs pricing for 6 months, and show you just how great an employee assistance program done right can be. 

Call +1 (800) 556-2950

 

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Zenovate formerly Incorporate Massage a leader in corporate massage since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company who’s platform provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Awards
Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Education
Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Publications
Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)  

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