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Why You Should Offer an EAP Program—and How to Do It Right

If your company offers an EAP (employee assistance program), kudos to you: you’re ahead of the curve. Only 58% of U.S. workers currently enjoy EAP benefits, and most of them work for large corporations. Yet, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), Americans are more stressed-out than ever—so there’s never been a better time to put an EAP in place.

If you don’t yet have a workplace EAP program, this primer is for you. Already have one? Skip to our tips for getting more from your wellness investment.  


Quick Refresher: What Is an EAP Program?

Here’s a quick definition of EAPs: EAPs are employer-sponsored programs that help workers resolve personal problems like stress, mental health issues, substance abuse—even legal and financial woes.

EAPs offer counselling and/or referral services that provide access to therapists, financial advisors, attorneys and more. Participation is voluntary and kept confidential. What does EAP stand for? Essentially, wellness benefits!


EAP Benefits to Employees

Anxiety, depression, post-pandemic trauma…according to the APA, American workers are plagued by these right now, on top of crushing financial worries.

EAP services make it easy for employees to find help—no searching for providers, no personal expense. And once they do, they’ll enjoy improved mental health, better relationships and/or a path to financial security.

In short, EAP programs lead to greater overall wellness, at home and at work.


How Does an EAP Benefit Your Workplace?

Research shows that happy workers are more productive workers. One university study found that happy employees are 12% more productive than their unhappy coworkers.

And supporting employee wellness increases retention. In one survey, 80% of workers said they’d consider leaving their job for an employer that prioritizes their well-being.

Furthermore, improving wellness reduces healthcare costs, absenteeism—even workplace accidents.  

And EAP programs are effective. One comprehensive study of 56 EAP providers found that 86% of employees who used EAPs became more productive afterwards. They became more engaged at work, had better attendance and were happier overall.

How to Implement an EAP Program

Most companies outsource their programs to EAP providers, so a good first step is to see what your benefits broker has to offer.

When evaluating EAP programs, consider their:

  • Range of services — do they meet the needs of your workforce? Include financial and legal counselling?
  • Provider network – how are professionals credentialled? Are they available locally and virtually?
  • Flexibility – can you tweak your EAP services as needed?
  • Track record of success – what are the client satisfaction rates? Reviews?

And off course, consider affordability. But keep in mind: EAP services cost just a fraction of what your group pays for health insurance.


How to Get the Most from Your EAP

In order for EAPs to be worthwhile, employees need to know about the available services—and feel comfortable using them. Therefore:

  • Promote the program to employees frequently. Be specific about the available resources and how to access them. Remind employees periodically, since someone who is not ready to seek help on one particular day may be receptive on another.
  • Reassure employees that their participation is 100% confidential.
  • Train managers to recognize signs of employee distress and how to sensitively refer workers to EAP services.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your EAP by:
    • Tracking usage metrics, of the EAP in general and its specific components.
    • Gathering employee feedback
    • Assessing the impact of your EAP against key HR metrics such as productivity, absenteeism and turnover.
  • Improving your EAP program continuously. It’s a work in progress, not a one-and-done!


Implementing and maintaining a strong EAP program is a small investment that can make a big impact. It will benefit you from a business perspective—while showing employees you care.

After all, studies show that workers value thoughtful employee benefits—and that offering comprehensive benefits give employers a competitive edge. Learn how Namely can help you enhance your benefits offerings, while simplifying benefits administration and enrollment.

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