Do Employee Assistance Program’s Work?

Employee Assistance Program Gold Coast, Get mentally Fit

Opinions vary on Employee Assistance Programs

Over the years we’ve had many conversations with corporate leaderships, and HR/People & Culture and WHS managers, about the effectiveness of Employee Assistance Programs. We’ve heard of great experiences, and really poor ones too, from the people responsible with safeguarding employee mental wellbeing and performance in their workplace. 

What is an Employee Assistance Program? 


Whether you’re looking to offer an Employee Assistant Program to your employees, or already offer an EAP service in your organisation, here’s what we’ve found talking to clients.

5 common issues with EAP:

  1. Underutilisation: They agreed EAPs were expensive and a liability if not managed well. They identified that a lack of awareness, and employee apprehension to seek help from their employer for personal issues, as the main derailers for an EAP failing.
  2. Stigmatisation: trying to overcome employee perception of EAP, that seeking assistance is a sign of weakness, negative to career progression, or stigmatising, was a major challenge and ultimately deterred them from accessing the available resources.
  3. Limited Scope: because EAPs typically provide short-term, solution-focused support it failed to help employees with more complex or ongoing issues. The level of assistance wasn’t sufficient for employees suffering with a longer-term psychological injury.
  4.  Lack of Follow-Up: EAPs lacked long-term support for employees who used the service. This resulted in a lack of sustained improvement for these employees.
  5. Privacy Concerns: employees were hesitant to use EAP services as they had concerns about the privacy of their discussions, and whether their employer would find out.

It’s important to remember that Employee Assistance Programs come in many forms. Taking a thoughtful and strategic approach can ensure you enjoy the benefits of getting it right for your employees and organisation.

5 positive benefits of EAP:

  1. Employee Well-being Improved: this was especially attributed to good psychological counselling services that are an essential part of EAPs. When employees felt supported in this way they found it naturally led to increased employee job satisfaction and productivity.
  2. Absenteeism and Presenteeism reduced: when employees could access appropriate support they were more likely to manage stress and their mental wellbeing better and continue to perform well at work.
  3. Cost Savings: EAPs consistently prevented workplace issues from escalating into larger, more costly problems. E.g, intervening in employee mental health concerns early reduced extended medical leave and Workcover claims.
  4. Enhanced Organisational Performance: effective and well managed EAPs contributed to a more health conscious and  engaged workforce, which attracted good people, reduced turnover, and fostered a positive workplace culture.
  5. Legal and Ethical Compliance: they identify EAPs were an ideal first step to upholding their duty of care (psychosocial risks) to employees. Compliance with such regulations safeguarded them from potential legal issues and reputational damage. 

*In Australia, it’s a legal WHS requirement that workplaces identify, address, and have measures in place to prevent psychosocial risks.

In our experience, Employee Assistance Program’s can be highly effective in safeguarding the wellbeing and performance of your employees and productivity of your business. 

Looking to offer an Employee Assistance Program? 

Deciding whether to offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) involves a thoughtful and strategic process. Here are the first steps a workplace typically takes when considering the implementation of an EAP:

  1. Undertake a needs assessment – identify the psychosocial risks in your organisation? Then ask…could an Employee Assistance Program be the best intervention service to safeguard your employees against these.
  2. Form a Committee: depending on the size of your business, create a working group to be responsible for researching, planning, and implementing your EAP, ideally consisting of HR, and people responsible for supporting the wellbeing and performance of employees.

  3. Explore your options: research potential EAP providers, and evaluate their services, costs, and the suitability of their offerings for your organisation’s unique needs.

Reviewing your Employee Assistance Program? 

It pays to periodically review the cost, actual usage and the effectiveness of your Employee Assistance Program. Keep an open mind to shopping around and modifying the service offerings to better suit your actual needs.

BEWARE!!! Set and forget subscription services, that have all the bell’s and whistles, are usually expensive and often underutilised. benefit

Let us help you get your EAP right

Contact us to feely ask a highly qualified workplace psychologist anything about Employee Assistance Programs. It pays to get expert advise at any stage to minimise the uncertainty of choosing the best EAP for your unique organisation. With well over a decade of experience of EAP counselling and whole service design and delivery, we are well positioned to clarify any uncertainties and answer any questions you invariable have. 

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