What are EAP services and why are they now business critical

By: Drake WellbeingHub

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) have been around for many years. The first form of EAP was Occupational Alcoholism Programs (OAP’s), which would later become a core pillar of EAP’s. At the time of World War II, there was a severe shortage of male workers in New York City, so workers were sourced from Bowery district - which at the time was heavily populated by alcoholics. It was thought that rehabilitating these workers would be a viable way forward, and so was born the first Occupational Alcoholism Programs (OAPs).

The US federal government promoted OAP’s through legislation, requiring all federal agencies and military installations to have an OAP. In 1972, this expanded to cover drug and substance abuse. In the early 70s, the US government established the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), supporting the growth and diffusion of EAPs throughout the United States. In 1977, the Commonwealth Government funded the National Alcohol and Drug Dependence in Industry Program (NADDIP).

Through the 1950’s and 1960’s, these programs became widely recognised in organisations and have continued to grow and develop, to include more comprehensive services around the health and wellbeing of workers. Greater emphasis was placed on better managing work-life balance, aged care, workplace violence, managing crisis, and supporting company-wide changes, such as mergers and downsizing. The primary difference between mental health counselling, coaching and health work, is the emphasis on employee work performance as a central theme guiding all program practices and services to the organisation. 

The evolution of EAP’s over the last 60 years has led to the development of a diverse range of employee services. EAP’s are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. In a world where we coexist with COVID-19, with no clear pathway out, workers now, more than ever, rely on the extra support offered by their employer to simply get by. Whether learning to live and work in isolation, dealing with extra financial pressures, being in abusive or troubling relationships, struggling with alcohol or substance dependencies, or something else impacting one's overall wellbeing. It is now an organisation's duty to provide workers with the extra support that they need, when they need it most.

EAP services are tailored to meet workers’ needs. The process generally includes six steps:

  1. Assessment
  2. Evaluation
  3. Information
  4. Short term counselling (4-5 sessions) with a specialised clinician in a particular area of interest
  5. Referral
  6. Follow-up  

With the provision of EAP services, organisations can rest assured that workers' needs are being met, and that when life's challenges become insurmountable, individuals always feel as though there is a way out.

Contact Drake WellbeingHub if you would like to better understand the role of EAP’s in today's world, and how they can influence positive change in your organisation.

Call us on 1300 135 600​

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