What to Look for in an EAP - A Three-Part Series, Part 1: Assessing Your Needs

What should you look for when selecting an Employee Assistance program?  Well, that depends on who you are.  EAPs are not all the same.  One size does not fit all.  Before comparing employee assistance programs, carefully assess your organization’s needs.

Company Size and Scope

Does your company consist of a single or a couple of facilities confined to one geographic area or does the organization have locations, branches or divisions scattered around the state or across the country?   Do you have offices and employees overseas?   Is it your intention to include all or only a few locations in the EAP?  (Some national organizations use a single EAP for everyone while others contract EAPs by locale or region).   You will need to look for an EAP that can comfortably service your company’s size and locations.

Employee Population

Some organizations have homogenous employee populations while others have wildly diverse employee groups which may bring into play cultural differences and language challenges.  Your EAP should possess the resources to meet the needs of your employee population.  If you need them, are there therapists with multicultural experience and foreign language skills?  Does the EAP have a Language Line connection to interpreters?  Find this out before you need it.

Employee Issues and Concerns

Think about the kinds of issues that frequently crop-up in your workplace.  What are some of the factors contributing to employee absenteeism, poor productivity and terminations?  Is substance abuse a problem?  If so, your EAP should be able to arrange for assessments and referrals to appropriate programs and to be able to monitor an employee’s progress.  If you have CDL drivers with substance abuse issues, the DOL requires them to be treated by a credentialed Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).  Can the EAP provide this?     Do you have a large number single mothers or grandparents raising grandchildren?  Are stress and finances serious concerns?  Look for an EAP that offers training and guidance for dealing with problems specific to your workforce.