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Posted by Alexandre Timothy, Group Insurance and Group Annuity Plans Advisor, August 11 2016
Management & HR
EAP: Because you are not a psychologist


How many times did one of your employees come in to your office looking for assistance with a personal problem? Many employees feel powerless to cope with certain challenges in their lives: stress, burnout, illness, divorce, etc. Many employers try to play the role of a psychologist, but is this really a good idea?

Employers are increasingly choosing to offer an Employee Assistance Program to their employees. This type of program is tailored to help employees deal with the personal and professional issues they may face.

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential short-term counselling service available to employees and their dependents whenever they need it. Employees can obtain services and support over the phone, on line or in person, often based on an annual maximum number of counselling hours.

What types of problems does it cover?

An EAP provides access to support and advice for many types of problems, whether personal (e.g. separation, childrearing, depression, mourning, alcohol abuse, Internet addiction, eating disorders, etc.), professional (e.g. burnout, harassment, stress, etc.) or legal (e.g. labour, real estate, marital, civil law, etc.).

Employees are referred to the appropriate specialist (e.g. psychologist, social worker, sexologist, career counselor, lawyer, accountant, etc.) depending on their specific needs.

Why should you offer an EAP?

By offering an EAP to your employees, you show them you care and, more importantly, you provide them with the help they need to be efficient and focused at work. An EAP will reduce absenteeism and presenteeism1, leading to improved productivity. You also avoid the risk that your managers will be called upon to deal with personal situations which they cannot resolve appropriately.

The EAP is also an attractive complement to your group insurance program, as it includes services for which the program provides no or limited coverage. It is also easier for employees to call the EAP and be referred to the right specialist rather than seeking one on their own. In many cases, problems will be solved through the EAP before employees need to file an insurance claim!

How will you get a good return on your investment?

Generally, between 5% and 8% of employees will use the EAP in any given year. This may seem low, but when you consider the high cost of absenteeism and presenteeism, the potential savings are significant.

To ensure the program is put to good use, it is important to promote it (e.g. poster, web, email, etc.) with frequent reminders. Presentations can also be made to raise employee awareness of the program and the services offered.

Beware of imitations!

Several insurers have added an EAP to their regular service offering. This is known as “EAP upon referral”. Although such programs are often free, they are not comparable to a true EAP.

First, employers cannot promote the EAP to their employees. Only managers can refer employees when they identify a problem with them, which can lead to confidentiality issues. Second, the program is offered only to employees and not to their dependents, which can be a problem with marital or child-related situations. Finally, EAPs upon referral often provide a much smaller range of services.

Therefore, the use of EAPs upon referral is usually very low and has no significant overall impact on the business.

Offer a winning EAP to your employees!

AGA Benefit Solutions offers its clients a customized, attractively priced EAP. Please contact your AGA advisor for more details.

1. Employees coming to work diligently while their state of physical or mental health prevents them from being fully productive.

Download the leaflet on EAP offered by AGA

Group Insurance and Group Annuity Plans Advisor | With a Bachelor in finance, Alexandre Timothy understands the challenges and realities of his clients, both from a financial point of view as well as a level of human resources and benefits. With his new outlook in a traditional industry, Alexandre offers innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of social benefits while meeting the needs of participants and employers. During his ten years of experience, Alexandre has stood out for his creativity and integrity, becoming a highly valued adviser by many of his customers.
Alexandre Timothy, Group Insurance and Group Annuity Plans Advisor