General Service Information
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are work-based early intervention programs with the main objective of early identification and/or resolution of problems that may be negatively affecting the performance and wellbeing of employees at the workplace. These problems may derive from issues at work or in an employee’s personal life, and can include difficulties surrounding health, relationships, finances, emotional concerns, and a variety of other problems that may arise. EAP’s have typically been seen as a reactive service, supporting those individuals with identified issues towards resolution. More recently with the focus on workplace mental health and wellbeing, EAP’s have been identified aa a key component of workplace wellbeing programs and have hence developed into a partnership model with organisations, providing proactive and preventative services as well as being there for people when they need. The employee assistance program provides a central platform for organisations wanting to support the wellbeing of their people. By providing targeted individual, tailored programs for those seeking to make a change to their behaviour, the EAP can not only assist those with specific issues to resolve, but further work with individuals to improve their day to day choices and behaviours that drive positive wellbeing. Partnering with organisations, EAP’s are able to showcase the preventative aspects of workplace mental health solutions and promotion of positive mental health through a variety of services to assist organisations in their mental health and wellbeing strategy.
EAPAA provider members throughout Australasia oversee over 11,500 organisations, providing coverage to over 9.4 million direct employees. Between July of 2019 and July of 2020, providers responded to over 9,500 critical incidents, investing over 60,000 hours of service into critical incidents and crisis counselling. EAPs overseen by EAPAA have been found to have an 84% effectiveness rate in Australia and a 70% effectiveness rate in New Zealand when resolving presenting issues. Furthermore, client satisfaction rates with EAPs are 90% in Australia and 83% in New Zealand.
Utilisation rates of EAP’s continue to rise as the importance of the workplace programs become more prominent, stigma around accessing mental health support reduces, and employees become more aware of the holistic benefits.
Traditionally EAPs have provided support to those with personal and work-related issues, with a perception of dealing with crisis and mental health response. Over the last five years there has been a growth in broadening EAPs to include wellness programs to incorporate broader lifestyle services including nutrition, legal, financial, sleep and health advice.
EAP’s also offer a variety of services outside self-referred counselling, including the following:
- Critical Incident Services
- Training and Education
- Conflict Management
- Proactive Onsite services
- Individual and organisational mental health and psychological risk assessment
- Manager referred counselling
- Digital platforms via portals and apps
- Wellbeing services
Although the self-referred counselling component of EAP is offered for any particular issue there are some main themes which are consistent across EAP clients:
- Personal Relationships
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Concern about external factors – EG pandemic
- Job strain and pressure
- Workplace relationships
EAP provides the opportunity for individuals to work with their clinician on a tailored plan to support and implement strategies to shift their current situation. Individuals who present for EAP typically are motivated to change or improve an aspect of their wellbeing and hence outcomes for those who engage in the service are high.
Modes of service
Self-referred counselling is typically provided face to face, phone based or through video conferencing (Teams, Zoom, Skype etc.). Sessions are delivered in line with a short-term solution focussed model and will typically be provided in a 3-6 session per issue or annum allowance per employee.
Confidentiality is a central tenet of an EAP service and must be maintained. As such EAPAA has specific guidelines that need to be adhered to around this area as outlined below:
- An EAP will explain confidentiality to purchasers and individual clients
- An EAP will have a written statement that fully informs clients about their rights regarding the scope and limitations of confidentiality. This statement will be communicated and made available to every client before assistance is offered.
- In the case of telephone or online counselling it is expected that the statement will be either read out to the client with verbal consent or the client be directed towards the statement that is available on a website or App.
- Every employee of an EAP must personally contract to a confidentiality agreement.
- An EAP will have clear guidelines and procedures as to when confidentiality will be breached, such as threat to life or others and child protection.
- An EAP will have clear consent to disclose information about a client, for example as part of a management referral.
- An EAP will protect client information from disclosure with appropriate levels of security. Access levels for different staff within an EAP shall be clearly defined.
- All offices from which EAP services are provided shall be located and designed to ensure client privacy
- All provider members should create a secure service to protect user privacy
Qualifications of Clinicians
We know that the quality-of-service delivery is the most important factor when selecting an EAP provider. All EAPAA members must abide by the service standards that we set as minimum requirements in this area as noted below:
- An EAP will evidence staff have the knowledge, skills, qualification, training and experience necessary to perform their tasks.
- An EAP will ensure all staff have access to continuing professional development.
- An EAP will familiarise staff with policies and procedures including duty ofconfidentiality and data protection and their accountability for service delivery and
- An EAP will ensure all staff are familiar with and work consistently with the EAPAA Code of Ethics.
- An EAP will ensure relevant staff are aware of their responsibilities to other professional codes of ethics as appropriate (for example, to AHPRA, APS, AAWS ACA, NZAC or NZAP, NCNZ, SWRB or CIMA) and the requirement to identify and resolve actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
- An EAP will have in place systems to identify and address unacceptable practice, conduct or concerns around health.
- An EAP will ensure staff have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and have policies and processes in place to raise concerns or grievances.
- An EAP will be able to demonstrate a system for clinical governance including the maintenance of documented protocols.
- An EAP will ensure all clinical staff and contractors undertake adequate clinical supervision.
- An EAP provider to ensure all clinical staff and contractors are professionally
- An EAP to ensure clinical professionals are registered with and accredited by the
relevant regulatory body or working toward accreditation and have a minimum of
3 years clinical experience.