What to Look for in an EAP - A Three Part Series, Part 3: Making a Selection

Now that you have assessed your company’s needs and have reviewed the features included in some EAPs, it’s time to look at your selection options

Types of Employee Assistance Programs    

There are a variety of Employee Assistance Programs available.  Among these are:

1.    Programs included with some medical, disability, life insurance and worker’s compensation insurance plans.  These EAP programs typically have robust websites with health and wellness information and resources.  They may or may not offer services such as face-to-face counseling, management referrals, critical incident response, onsite training or management consultations.  Some of these services may be referred to and covered under the client company’s medical plan.  Others you may have to pay for.  If you opt to use one of these EAPs, be sure you understand what features are included and what are not.  When one hapless human resource professional was confronted with a suicidal employee, she contacted her employee assistance program and was told the EAP was embedded in the worker’s compensation insurance and only applied to behavioral health issues related to workplace injuries or illness.  Suicidal ideation was not covered.

2.    Captive programs operated internally as part of the organization.  Some hospitals, for example, operate their own internal employee assistance programs. 

3.    Convenience is a major benefit.  Staff on all shifts have access without leaving the workplace.  Of the drawbacks, employees site concerns about confidentiality, too few therapists and no choice in therapists.  

4.    Staff Model EAPs are programs operated by a single agency with one facility or perhaps having one or more satellite sites.  Staff Models usually operate within a restricted geographic area and offer a menu of services. Some agencies are well-resourced while others may not be. 

5.    A Network Model is an EAP with a home or corporate office managing the business and having a network of EAP providers located in convenient proximity to client organizations.  The EAP providers are typically mental health professionals in private or agency practices who contract with the Employee Assistance Program and agree to provide specified services within the EAP framework.  A greater number of therapists and options for therapists with a variety of sub-specialties are just a couple of the advantages of a network model.

The EAP Contract 

If possible, try to find an EAP that is willing to customize a contract for your organization.  If you are a small company with few employees, you may want an a la carte contract in which you select the services you desire and pay for these as utilized. 

If your organization is large with several hundred or thousand employees, you may want to go with a full-service contract that includes all EAP features.  This type of contract is billed at a set fee per employee per month.  The fee is based on services included and the number of employees each month. 

Choose the EAP that best meets the needs of your employee population and not just the least expensive program.  An EAP that is a good fit and well-utilized will save your company both time and money.  You will have a more consistent workforce, better morale and a solid partner to help with those unexpected and difficult employee relations issues that arise in the workplace.