What are Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and why are they important?

By September 1, 2021employee benefits
What are Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and why are they important?

With more emphasis on mental health in the wake of various lockdowns, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), have been utilised more than before. And with this, more thought is being put into how best to promote and discuss them with our teams.

And yet they are still largely misunderstood. With questions around confidentiality, what and who is covered, and the best ways to promote awareness. We delve into all in our ultimate guide.

What are Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP)?

EAP is an employee benefit that provides confidential support and advice on just about anything. From work-related stress and issues to personal matters. Generally included in health insurance plans, advisors are available with experience in counselling and wellbeing support. This service can be accessed face to face, over the telephone or online.

While your company pays for the benefit, it is a totally separate, out-of-office service. So everyone can rest assured that it is a confidential service. Employees are able to self-refer, which is another reason it is important to make sure all staff are aware of EAP, what it is and how to access it.

What’s covered?

The employee, dependents over 16 years old and partners living at the same address are usually all covered. Areas may include:

  • Family and relationship support
  • Bereavement
  • Mental health support, such as stress, loneliness, anxiety, and low mood
  • Child, dependent and elderly care
  • Domestic violence
  • Health and lifestyle
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Money management and debt advice
  • Legal rights

Why is EAP an important benefit to offer?

Much in the same way that offering healthcare plans provide access for physical health, EAP is an option for mental health.

Staff have the option to discuss work related concerns too. Keep in mind, they may not feel comfortable approaching someone within your organisation about these. For example, if they are unsure about equality, harassment and bullying, or burnout.

While HR is a department that helps deal with issues like the above, sometimes teams are not trained or experienced in specific topics. Making this extra support is equally beneficial.

BUPA breaks down their EAP offering into these four core areas:

Improves engagement and productivity

Helps improve employee morale and engagement. Preventing personal issues from impacting on work, such as reducing absences from work.

Identifies issues

Provides insightful reporting, to identify key issues and health risks within your organisation that can help to improve your wellbeing strategy.

Confidential counselling

Empower your employees to take control of their health and address any concerns they may have. The therapy can be delivered remotely over the telephone, online or in person. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other specialist techniques can also be provided.

Information from experts

Practical and emotional advice from qualified experts over the phone, plus access to online information and tools focused on enhancing and supporting your team’s wellbeing.

How to promote EAP within your organisation

The key to successful promotion is regular discussion of EAP with all employees.

Times to mention EAP could include:

Oftentimes those who could benefit from such services are great at hiding emotional turmoil or stress. So, it is important that you don’t only share it with only those who appear to be stressed or overwhelmed.

Core points for awareness include:

  1. EAP is a service that is free to use for all employees with access
  2. Make it clear when the service is available (e.g., if it has set hours, days of operation or if it’s a 24/7 service)
  3. It is confidential and operated by an independent company. Therefore, the details of any conversation had will not be disclosed, unless there is a risk of harm to yourself or others (which is usual policy for such services)
  4. Break down what is on offer from this service, for example it is not only counselling


While EAP is often under-appreciated, it is an incredibly important benefit to offer your staff. With a range of qualified advisors to deal with a multitude of topics, EAP is crucial for mental health and wellbeing support.

At Perkpal we offer a range of incredible employee discounts and savings, employee rewards and recognition programmes, and access to our free services such as health and wellbeing resources. This includes our free Employee Assistance Programme. You can find out more about our perks here.

If you would like to book a demo of our platform to see our features and benefits that help make employees happier!

C: 0800 652 4745
E: hello@perkpal.co.uk