Employee assistance programmes

How EAPs can help with employee happiness and your retention rates

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Wednesday, May 17, 2023

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to look after your employee's wellbeing, as well as their physical and mental health. You can do this by providing a confidential service, allowing them to get support with their issues in confidence.

An employee assistance programme is a complete service that aims to help staff members with their personal and working life issues. The services come with a range of benefits.

In this guide, we'll discuss what an employee assistance programme is, what makes up the programme, and the benefits it can bring.

What is an Employee Assistance Programme?

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an employee benefit that is intended to help your workforce deal with personal problems that may be affecting their work performance.

So as an employer, it's crucial you understand the importance of them.

Why are Employee Assistance Programmes Important?

An EAP programme is vitally important to your company. Your employee's morale and happiness is an important cog in your business.

The happier your employees are, the more productive they'll be whilst at work. So you should see the prospect of an EAP service as a great opportunity.

How does an Employee Assistance Programme Work?

An EAP service works by allowing employees confidential access to a range of services to support them. Whilst employers can pay for the programme, they strictly receive no information to what issue is being supported.

Let's discuss further the issues an EAP service can help with:

Mental Health Issues

An EAP service can help improve your employee's mental wellbeing, as well as discussing a decrease in their mental health.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to support employees with mental health problems and help with their wellbeing.

Financial Advice

The service can provide support to your employees who are suffering from financial difficulties. This can include how to deal with debts and follow a budget. This support can be vital if your employees are dealing with financial issues.

Legal Advice

An EAP service doesn't just provide advice on work-related issues, the programme supports your employees with legal advice on a range of issues.

For example, marriage counseling, as well as advice on divorce and family concerns.


An EAP service will advise on addictions, whether that be drugs, gambling, or alcohol. This may not be for the employee, but for their immediate family or friend. However, not all policy’s cover family.

This could prove key in helping the person with the addiction on their journey to recovery.

Work Issues

There are many issues that can cause a dip in work performance. This can be down to work life changes which can lead to an increase in stress or employee burnout.

The service helps to communicate with the employee to manage these issues.


Grief is one of the most difficult things an employee can go through, with them potentially requiring a long period of time off work.

An EAP service can help an employee who is suffering from grief in their personal life.

What are the Benefits of Employee Assistance Programmes?

There are many benefits that come with providing an employee assistance programme to your employees. So as an employer, you need to understand them:

  • Improves employee wellbeing.
  • Improves employee morale and confidence that you're supporting them.
  • Helps employees with personal problems.
  • Prevent personal issues impacting their work, such as reducing absenteeism.
  • Identify key issues and health risks from within your business.
  • Shows you're proactive in supporting your entire workforce.
  • Increase employee retention.

There are a few examples that you can provide to your employees, each with its own sets of pros.

Examples of EAP Services

You can offer a few types of EAP services to your employees in your organisation. All of which can help your workers with any problems they have.

Let's discuss them in more detail:


Counselling is an excellent way to manage workplace issues, as well as personal problems.

This EAP service involves an initial assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for your employees and their immediate family (if covered).

Examples are cognitive behavioural therapy or goal-oriented counselling. Sometimes just speaking to someone is the small thing that can start the journey.

Providing Gym Memberships

Staying healthy is a key part in a happy and healthy life, so providing gym memberships to your employees can be an important step. Some EAP programmes offer free gym memberships, meaning your employees can have access to a gym with no extra cost to themselves.

Exercise can also help your employees to take their mind off the problems that have been affecting their work, and give them a focus.


Workshops are known to tackle stress and improve the work-life balance of your employees. These workshops can range from academic study, to yoga or arts and crafts.

Much like going to the gym, these workshops can help your employees focus on something else rather than the personal or work-life problems they're facing.

How to Promote an Employee Assistance Programme in your Business

The best way to promote your EAP programme is to make your employees aware of the services on offer. If they don't know about it, then why would they use it?

Make it clear to your workforce the benefits of using the service and how it can help them with problems they're facing. However, you must not pressure your employees to use the programme. Doing so may have an adverse effect.

You should provide training to your line managers and other senior staff on the service, and how it can help their team.

Leaflets, guides and handbooks should be provided to your employees making them aware of the service and how it can support them.

Is an EAP service a Taxable Benefit?

Offering all your employees access to an employee assistance programme as opposed to just your senior members of staff makes it exempt from p11d "Benefits in Kind" tax.

However, the employee's immediate family can only use some of the benefits tax-free, such as couple or family counselling.

Legal advice for issues not affecting someone's work isn't exempt from tax. You should make your employees aware of this when you offer them the service.

Get Advice on Employee Assistance Programmes with BrightHR

All employers have a responsibility to look after their employee's physical and mental health, as well as their wellbeing. This can be done by providing a confidential service that allows them to get support with their issues in confidence.

Providing an EAP is an excellent way to support your staff with their personal and working life issues. The services come with a range of superb benefits.

If you need any advice on employee aisstance programmes, we are here to help. Book a free demo today or give us a call on 0800 783 2806

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