Benefits 101: What Is an EAP? | Virginia Employee Benefits Partners

As much as employers might prefer that employees’ personal affairs do not interfere with their work, the reality is that problems outside of the workplace can and do impact job performance.  Many of these issues go unaddressed due to fear of stigmatization, leading to further declines in employee health and productivity.  Anxiety and stress, financial troubles, substance abuse and other personal problems can also lead to increased absenteeism.  To help combat these issues, many employers offer a workplace benefit called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that is designed to help employees address everyday challenges.

What is an EAP?

An EAP provides voluntary, confidential services to employees who need help managing personal difficulties or life challenges. The idea is to address personal issues before they interfere with work performance. The employee assistance program is one of the top benefits employers offer in America—for a good reason. They are one way that companies support the well-being of their employees.  An EAP generally offers confidential assessment, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services for employees.

Typically, an EAP grants employees access to a set number of sessions with a therapist, and the employee would not accrue any co-pay, deductible, or other out-of-pocket costs for the service. For example, Nick has been struggling with depression. To sooth his anxiety, he has begun drinking every day. It’s gradually escalated to the point where he is late to work, has frequent absences, and is missing deadlines. He knows he needs to talk with someone who can offer him alcohol abuse resources. He accesses his company-sponsored EAP.

Meredith is a full-time, married employee with two small children and is also caring for her aging mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  She is constantly stressed due to the heavy burden of her daily life.  The schedule has left her exhausted and she misses work each month due to feeling burnt out.  She reaches out to her EAP counselor for time management and mental health tips.

Here are some other common services included in EAPs:

One reason behind the popularity of EAPs is that it’s a mutually beneficial program for employers and employees.  After all, your employees are the foundation of your company.  Healthy and happy employees are more productive and engaged in their jobs which is great for your company’s bottom line!