What to Look for in an EAP - A Three Part Series, Part 2: Features to Consider

Once you have assessed your organization’s needs, you can begin looking for an EAP with the features to meet those needs.  Here are some things to consider: 

Service Providers

You will want to know who the people are behind the EAP and if they are readily assessible.  Who is your contact and how do you reach this person should you have questions or concerns?  You should have a level of comfort with your contact. Find out if the EAP provides services through a single location or if it involves a network of therapists in private practices and agencies.  Be sure your business area is covered.  Ask if the therapists are licensed and credentialed and how this is managed. Inquire into the specialty areas of the therapists.  For example, should you have an employee with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, would there be a skilled therapist experienced with this condition?  How would a suicidal employee be handled?  These situations do happen, and you want to be assured before you commit that they will be handled well.

Access to Services

Access to the EAP needs to be timely, smooth, and non-threatening.  Employees must trust in the confidentiality of the services.  For face-to-face counseling, therapist should meet with clients in conveniently located professional offices.  How are appointments scheduled and what are the approximate wait times?  Standard wait times are:  routine appointment – 3 to 5 days; urgent need: 2 days; emergent problem: immediately.

Does the EAP provide telephonic counseling for employees in remote locations or for those who prefer it over an office visit?

Some EAPs are now embedding services into employer onsite health clinics and working with medical staff in a holistic approach toward health and wellness.  If your organization has an onsite clinic, look for an EAP willing and capable of doing this.

Many EAPs offer clients access to dedicated websites loaded with information on health, wellness, work-life balance, as well as articles and resources on a wide range of behavioral health and daily life topics. Be sure your employees will be able to login to such a website.

Management Referrals

Some EAPs offer this service whereby a member of management - human resources, a supervisor or other manager - can refer an employee who has violated company policy or whose performance issues have placed them in jeopardy of termination.  The EAP arranges for the employee to be assessed and connected with an appropriate therapist. The EAP assigns a Care Manager to manage the case and to help ensure the employee’s successful completion of the program.  The Care Manager is the contact point for the employee, the therapist and the employer representative keeping everyone informed of progress.        

Critical Incident Response

In a crisis such as a workplace accident, an unexpected death, a robbery, or other traumatic event, does the EAP have trauma counselors prepared for deployment to your site?  What is the lead time and what is the procedure?  You may never need this service but if you do, you will want to be sure you have it!

Training and Consultations

Unless, and even if, you have your own training department, your company could benefit from EAP training programs.  Some EAPs offer trainings and workshops on a variety of behavioral health and compliance topics such as managing stress, coping with change, sexual and other harassment, violence in the workplace, etc.   

There are times when workplace issues become quite complicated and an employer may not know exactly how to proceed.  It may help to have a confidential discussion with an EAP representative who can offer suggestions and guidance.  Look for this feature.