updated 10/11

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) serve organizations and their employees in multiple ways, ranging from consultation at the strategic level about issues with organization-wide implications to individual assistance to employees and family members experiencing personal difficulties. As workplace programs, the structure and operation of each EAP varies with the structure, functioning, and needs of the organization(s) it serves.

In general, an EAP is a set of professional services specifically designed

  • to improve and/or maintain the productivity and healthy functioning of the workplace and to address a work organization’s particular business needs
  • through the application of specialized knowledge and expertise about human behavior and mental health.

More specifically, an EAP is a workplace program designed to assist: (1) work organizations in addressing productivity issues, and (2) "employee clients" in identifying and resolving personal concerns, including health, marital, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress, or other personal issues that may affect job performance.

"Employee assistance program core technology" or "EAP core technology" represents the essential components of the employee assistance (EA) profession. These components combine to create a unique approach to addressing work-organization productivity issues and "employee client" personal concerns affecting job performance. EAP core technology is:

  1. Consultation with, training of, and assistance to work organization leadership (managers, supervisors, and union officials) seeking to manage troubled employees, enhance the work environment, and improve employee job performance;

  2. Active promotion of the availability of EA services to employees, their family members, and the work organization.

  3. Confidential and timely problem identification/assessment services for employee clients with personal concerns that may affect job performance;

  4. Use of constructive confrontation, motivation, and short-term intervention with employee clients to address problems that affect job performance;

  5. Referral of employee clients for diagnosis, treatment, and assistance, as well as case monitoring and follow-up services;

  6. Assisting work organizations in establishing and maintaining effective relations with treatment and other service providers, and in managing provider contracts;

  7. Consultation to work organizations to encourage availability of and employee access to health benefits covering medical and behavioral problems including, but not limited to, alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental and emotional disorders; and

  8. Evaluation of the effects of EA services on work organizations and individual job performance.