Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

These days, EAP is a cornerstone to any benefits package offered by employers. EAP services include crisis management, counseling and even management support. When choosing an EAP package to put in place at your company, it’s important to know the differences between a stand-alone EAP policy and bundled EAP that you may get for “free” when purchasing Group Life or even Group Disability coverage.

There’s an old adage that says “you get what you pay for” and this really rings true when comparing EAP plans. Stand-alone EAP policies are more expensive than the bundled kind and it’s easy to say you don’t need a separate policy, especially when it’s thrown in as a value-add. However, in a true crisis such as a death at the workplace, you need to know what you have.

Here’s the lowdown: you want to ensure you have specific included practices in your EAP coverage. Minimally, these will be:

  • 24-hour telephone counseling
  • Face-to-face counseling
  • On-site Crisis Management
  • Substance abuse and chemical dependency knowledge
  • Coverage for families of your employees

If you’ve been told your bundled EAP service is inclusive of these services, here are some questions to ask your current provider to be sure. If any of these are a “no”, then that’s a red flag to begin looking elsewhere.

  • If someone calls the 24-hour telephone number, will the person speaking to them be a licensed counselor?
  • Will the phone counselor be able to properly refer them to a face-to-face licensed counselor if necessary?
  • Will the licensed counselor follow-up with the individual to ensure proper care?
  • Are the visits to a counselor unlimited?
  • Do we have to pay extra fees for On-site Crisis Management?
  • Are the phone counselors versed in speaking to people with substance abuse concerns?
  • Is this coverage for employee’s family members too?

You want to ensure your EAP services fit within the culture you are advocating for your employees and their families. In a bundled EAP policy, many of the answers to the questions above will result in a “no”. If that’s the case, you need to ask yourself as a company if that is acceptable or if you want more for your employees. The benefits of having a strong EAP service are to prevent absenteeism, resolve personal conflict and even reduce workplace accidents. So, how much does your company value risk-avoidance in these areas?

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