Employee Assistance Programs
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a benefit paid for by employers to help alleviate the personal problems of employees that affect workforce productivity. This includes but is not limited to financial, alcohol, drug, legal, stress, emotional, marital, or parental problems. An EAP will not solve an employee's problems, but can point them in the right direction to get help or offer short-term counseling services.
Employers can contract with an in-house EAP professional, but this is feasible only for very large companies. For the smaller business sector, an off-site professional or vendor can provide services on an as-needed basis. Ask about the cost, which may be calculated by the number of employees on staff rather than the actual instances of assistance. Employees in need of services may self-refer themselves or be referred by their supervisor.
Most medical-insurance plans, including HMOs, offer referrals for counseling services. The policy's standard copayments will apply, and this should be paid by the employee if there is no formal EAP in place. Encourage employees to see what options are available through their medical plan if they bring a personal problem to your attention.
You can find an employee assistance program professional by contacting the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) at