Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) help employees navigate life challenges, adverse events, stress, and other issues that affect mental or emotional well-being. Typically, this includes services to help address child or elder care disruptions, along with alcohol or substance abuse, stress or grief, family problems, and financial or legal questions.

EAPs are typically voluntary and free to employees. In most cases, EAPs are also available to employees’ dependents and families.

According to the Society of Human Resources Management, EAPs are typically offered at no cost to employees by stand-alone vendors or providers. They are also relatively low-cost to employers – the average EAP costs employers, on average, $12 to $40 per employee, depending on the plan.

Sample policies and examples:





Capital Blue Cross

Expressive Hands

Start Here:

According to the U.S. Chamber, you can find a reputable EAP program by:

  • Talking with your current healthcare provider, if you have one. Many of them offer or partner with EAP providers.
  • Checking with any professional associations where you’re a member. Many of them offer access to EAP programs.

When you’re looking for a provider, here are a few things to look for:

  • How long the company has been in business.
  • Whether they’ve worked with other companies in your industry.
  • Whether employees will receive services on- or offsite.
  • The scope of services that the company offers.
  • The credentials and training staff members have.
  • The type of follow-up services provided to ensure employee success.

If you already offer an EAP, promote your program heavily. Employee usage of EAPs is low, at under 10% on average. Often, employers don’t promote their programs enough for employees to know they exist, according to the Society for Human Resources Management.

Your employees will not sign up for the EAP unless they understand how it benefits them. So it’s your job to educate your employees about the program and remind them it’s available.

Your EAP may provide you with pamphlets and information to help your employees understand how the program works. And it’s a good idea to choose a point person in your office who is responsible for drafting policies to ensure this information is communicated to employees.

When new employees go through orientation, they may not be going through any personal challenges and need to utilize an EAP. But this could change down the road, so come up with a plan for reminding your employees of this benefit.