The acronym EAP means Employee Assistance Program, and it is an employer-paid resource to help and support employees with different problems or obstacles they incur in their life. 

Through the EAP program, employees can be connected with trained professionals who can assist them and their families with a variety of issues. This includes experts in different subject areas that handle a broad and complex body of issues.

Some support options available through EAP include but are not limited to:

  • Dealing with family, financial, career or legal issues

  • Mental health support and resources

  • Substance abuse, stress, or grief support

  • Fitness and health coaching, nutrition

  • Specific challenges as a leader

Unfortunately, EAP resources and benefits are underutilized. According to Benefits Canada, only 11% of employees with EAPs use them.

Why is the EAP so underutilized?

It is not because employees and their families do not have problems; there is not just one answer to this question. Research has found that some of the reasons include the following:

  • Employees are concerned that when using this company program, their information will not be kept confidential

  • The stigma around mental health and reaching out for support

  • Lack of knowledge about the program and what it offers

  • Employees are not aware that their company has an EAP

Companies that recognize underutilized EAP have a clear next step. This consists of developing a plan to promote increased usage for their employees. Below are some tips/ideas on promoting EAP in your organization.

6 Ways Companies Can Promote Their EAP to Employees

1. Educating Current Employees

Employees need to know that the program exists. Sending reminder emails, posters at the locations, annual or semi-annual presentations, newsletters and lunch and learns are some examples of educating employees.

2. Informing New Hires

Providing information in the onboarding package and sending a reminder communication after probation.

3. Emphasizing It Is Confidential

Employers cannot see who has accessed the program. They can only see general usage, such as the number of employees who have used the EAP. Names and personal information are confidential between the employee and the EAP provider.

4. Easy Access to the Program

All employees should be able to contact EAP without having to go through others. It should also be clear that it does not have to be an emergency to contact EAP.

5. Virtual Sessions

Letting employees know that several EAPs now offer virtual sessions. Having the ability to do a session online rather than going into an office is a great option.

6. Don’t Stop Promoting

Sometimes employees forget about the program. Continuously promoting EAP keeps it fresh in employees’ minds and reminds them how to access the program.

Overall, employees could be missing out on benefits and resources to help support themselves and their families with results that can lead to improvements in employees’ mental health and well-being.

Marna Lagerquist
Talent Acquisition & Development Manager, 4Refuel

Marna is a BOA member on the 17th Floor.
The Board of Advisors (BOA) is a select group of Canadian professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to help mentor and share their knowledge of human capital management within the community.

Is your workplace using its EAP to its fullest potential? Let me know in the comments section below.


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