What is EAP
EAP EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a modern type of benefit
in the form of confidential and professional source of information
and of support for the employees and their family members
going through the struggles of everyday life.
Find out what characterises EAPs and how they differ from other forms of employee support.
Learn about the history of EAPs in the world, as well as EAP practices in Europe and in Poland.
Characteristics of the EAP
The Employee Assistance Program provides:
- Psychological, managerial as well as legal and financial support,
- Confidentiality and anonymity,
- Remote and easy access to support:
- EAP helpline 8-24/7/365,
- EAP webinars,
- EAP portal,
- Contact with professionals – EAP consultants, psychologists, therapists, coaches,
- Trusted partners:
- Certified psychotherapists,
- Legal advisers.
EAP and other forms of support
EAP as an employee benefit
EAP as a cost-effective solution
History of EAPs
The beginnings of EAPs in the USA
EAPs date back to the 1930s (USA) and stem from alcoholism prevention programs in the workplace.
Alcohol abuse was a particular problem for workers in industry – it affected the decrease in efficiency and productivity.
In 1939 the Alcoholics Anonymous Movement (AA) developed. People “with a past” sharing their experiences gave rise to such programs as the EAP. Companies started to see the effectiveness of employee assistance programs – since they worked as support for alcoholics, they could be applied to other employee problems.
Important moments for EAPs
In the 1970s, a new model of EAPs emerged. It offered workers a broader approach to assistance, i.e. also in professional, marital and even financial problems. The stigma of counteracting alcoholism was almost entirely averted. Modern EAPs offered employees professional and confidential support, free of charge, covering a wide range of services in the workplace.
Since the attack on 11 September 2001, EAP specialists have become more involved in the implementation of plans related to crises, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and an increase in the prevalence of stress and depression.
The financial crisis of 2007-2009 was another point in the history of EAPs. Psychological, legal and financial support programs became even more popular among employees. Large organisations started to use not one but several EAP providers to ensure that employees have the fastest and broadest possible access to professional assistance.
The current situation related to Covid-19 has brought about a major change in the functioning of companies and their employees. The reality today is special and requires addressing not only the physical needs of employees but also the psychological ones. EAP is a proven solution in times when psychological and managerial support is particularly needed.
EAPs in Europe
EAPs have taken different forms in European countries, mainly due to differences in the powers of institutions dealing with assistance and support of people and differences in the professional qualifications of psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors.
In the UK almost 2.6 million employees have access to EAPs – the value of services is estimated at about £ 22.5 million (EAPA data, UK, 2005).
In Denmark, since the 1960s, a majority of large companies have EAPs. Since 1980 EAPs have been supported by the Ministry of Health (Sosted, 2005). Currently about 25% of employees have access to EAPs (Sosted, 2005).
In Germany, EAPs, also called Betriebssozialarbeit or Mitarbeiterberatung (Appelt, 2005), are offered by international companies and large private enterprises – mainly to prevent alcohol and drug problems.
EAPs in Poland
According to epidemiological data, each year about 3.8 million Poles suffer from various types of mental disorders. There are only 8 psychotherapists per 100 thousand citizens in Poland. In this respect, our country is only in the 21st position in Europe.
The waiting time for psychotherapy financed by the National Health Fund (NFZ) is several months (even half a year). An additional challenge is to find a psychotherapist specialising in specific areas of psychological assistance.
EAPs enable employees to benefit from professional support in solving problems at work and in private life. The most important aspects of the EAP are confidentiality and anonymity (an external, independent company), as well as ease of access to information and to specialists (psychologists, therapists, coaches).
EAP is a modern employee benefit providing real value to employees and organisations.