A quick and easy guide to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

October 10, 2022
employee assistance programs

Fatigue, burnout, financial uncertainty, and stressful relationship dynamics all keep you from being your best self. 

And when you aren’t thriving, the organizations you work for don’t thrive either. 

While your boss can’t fix whatever is going on in your personal life, they can arrange counseling and support sessions to help you cope. That’s why most employers now offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

The sole purpose of an EAP is to provide an organization’s employees with the emotional support they need during difficult times.

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential, short-term, and work-based counseling service designed to help employees at all levels, and in most cases their immediate family members. These (trained) psychological services may be accessed for many reasons, ranging from minor psychological issues such as low moods, recurring worries, and motivational problems through to more serious psychological issues like suicidal ideation, addiction, depression, anxiety, and acute stress.

Not all employers offer EAPs.

family counselling

Benefits of an EAP

For employers, seeing to the physical and mental health of employees has an excellent return on investment in terms of employee productivity. Having an EAP means their staff experiences reduced stress, decreased absenteeism, and overall employee retention.

For employees, EAPs offer the opportunity for necessary mental health counselling at no out-of-pocket expense. An EAP can also remove the barriers that can prevent you reaching out for help by making the process simpler and quicker than seeking help through other means. With a quality EAP, employee counselling is usually just a phone call away for members.

If you require more counselling sessions, your EAP professional can usually refer you to a pre-screened outside provider, such as a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker, for continued treatment.

How do EAPs work?

You may be reluctant to take advantage of the services provided by your organization’s EAP because you’re not sure about the types and availability of the services on offer. Or you might be worried about the confidentiality of the services. 

Maybe you don’t even know if your organization has an EAP at all. So while every organization will have their own unique approach, here’s a few points to help understand how EAPs work:

  • Generally, employees access EAP services through an external provider that has the training and experience to provide counselling and referral services.
  • Using an EAP service should be entirely confidential. The external providers will only report to your employer the number of services they’ve provided, not the names or types of services that were provided. 
  • You will most likely have access to a phone number or website you can call to request counselling or other forms of help from your EAP. This might be found in your initial onboarding material, or on any internal platforms or portals. If you still can’t find them, your HR manager (or equivalent) should be able to supply you with them. 
  • With many EAP providers, family members that are affected by the well-being issues that have led to the employee seeking counselling are also eligible to access the EAP. 

Reasons you might want to reach out for help from your EAP

Critical incidents, such as business closures, mass layoffs, violent or frightening workplace incidents, and workplace incurred injuries are all usually covered under an EAP. But, although these services are accessed through work, the issue being discussed with the EAP provider doesn’t have to originate from work.

These are some of the common problems an EAP can help employees with:

  • Domestic violence counselling, legal advice, and intervention.
  • Grief counselling. 
  • Depression, anxiety, and the management of other mental illnesses. 
  • Anger and stress management strategies. 
  • Substance abuse or other addictions (eg. gambling).  
  • The hardships of caring for an elderly family member or someone with disabilities.
  • Divorce or other personal relationship stresses. 
  • Family services that strategize around childcare and family planning.
  • Financial and legal advice services. 

And you don’t need to wait until after a crisis event either. EAPs can also be accessed as a preventative measure, offering training to reduce the chance of problems arising, or pinpointing potential issues that need to be corrected before they become a problem.

stress at work

4 examples of companies with successful EAPs

Rheinmetall | Cisco Meraki | Schneider ElectricJP Morgan


Defence & emergency

Rheinmetall offers comprehensive EAP services delivered by their partner, Assure Programs. This service not only matches many of the services listed above, but also includes:

  • Well-being coaching with a positive psychology focus 
  • Leadership support
  • Nutritional support
  • An Indigenous Peoples support program

Employees also have access to a well-being app – a resource that provides articles and tools at any time. Services are completely free to all employees and their immediate families who live with them. Unlimited service access (generally four sessions of relevant support service per presenting ‘issue’), with the delivery of the service available in-person, online, chat-based, and phone-based. 

To help employees know how to get the most out of the offerings, Rheinmetall also run regular information and education sessions and include content in their new hire onboarding induction series and through various other communications.

Feedback from employees who have used the services has been largely positive, with compliments on the range of access options, and an increased uptake of the positive psychology services.

rheinmetall team

Cisco Meraki

IT, digital & online media services

Cisco Meraki know the happiest employees are the ones who feel fully supported in all aspects of their lives and that having an EAP program only makes them stronger as an organization. Their mission is to create a trusted community where everyone feels welcomed, included, and safe to share their personal experiences and needs.

Their Employee and Family Assistance Program is there to support their employees. Their People Support Program in partnership with employee benefits offers counselling and resources to help employees navigate work and life challenges. The Employee and Family Assistance Program enables employees and their immediate family members 24-hour access to counselling and support.

Schneider Electric

Manufacturing & operations

Schneider Electric use Allure Programs as their EAP. The program is available through their employee portal and via an app. This app also provides a myriad of resources and articles with free confidential psychological support, well-being coaching, legal, dietary and financial advice for their employees and their families.

From those who have accessed the support service, the feedback has been very positive with praise for the number of resources and support available. 

Schneider Electric also have “Mindfulness Labs” with resources to help employees be mindful. The leadership within the company have also been heavily involved in the use and promotion of the services on offer within the company. 

JP Morgan

Banking, investment & finance

The EAP service at JP Morgan provides an onsite counselor in their London office for employees who would prefer in-person counseling and support whilst in the office. 

Their Occupational Health team also works closely with line managers, HR, and the Well-being team to promote and maintain the physical and mental well-being of their employees. Face-to-face or virtual consultations are available for those who are looking to return to the office after extended periods of illness or to support employees to stay in the office with ongoing conditions. 

Along with the reasons mentioned above, JP Morgan’s EAP offers professional counseling, consultation, and referral service to help employees, partners and dependents with issues related to pregnancy and infant care. This includes coaching on personal and family priorities, managing health, understanding ways to manage parenting challenges, and making decisions about sleep, breastfeeding, and weaning. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured JP Morgan for their outstanding employee support and safety services either. Check out some of the other ways they are supporting your wellness and well-being at work.

Discover more about these Endorsed Employers

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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