Choosing an EAP - A woman drinking coffee while on laptop

Choosing an EAP

Amelia Wilcox
July 29, 2020
October 9, 2022

Choosing an EAP for your company is one of the most important decisions an HR Director will face. It’s important because the difference between what EAPs offer can be vastly different. Typically, EAPs fall into 3 categories; those attached to your medical plan, broader behavioral health resources and stand-alone companies that provide solely EAP services. So, when you’re choosing an EAP, considering what services your company needs are important!  

Size matters when it comes to choosing an EAP. There is a significant difference in needs for a 100-employee company versus a 100,000-employee company. If your company has thousands of employees, scattered across multiple locations, you might be best suited for a broad service offering that can cover everyone. Whereas a smaller stand-alone EAP might be best for a small business with only a few employees. But the size of the EAP service isn’t the only thing that matters, it’s also important to make sure that -- no matter the EAPs size, they’re committed to taking care of each and every one of your employees.  

What to watch out for when choosing an EAP

Not all EAP services are alike. There are some EAPs that companies should avoid such as:

  • Those that provide a 1-800#. These are typically low cost, and do not offer certified support. That means that the person answering the phone may not be fully vetted, certified in your state, or trained to provide meaningful support to your staff.
  • Mental health add-ons that are simply attached to the employee’s health insurance. These types of EAPs typically lack confidentiality and have unexpected costs.
  • EAPs that don’t provide data on their usage should also be avoided. Make sure the program you choose can provide you with frequent reports on staff use.

When choosing an EAP, here are some items that should be addressed:

The average EAP utilization rate is only 4.5 percent--even though most companies report a much higher need for mental health support. In fact, with the stress of COVID-19, the percentage of adults in the U.S. who reported psychological distress increased from 3.7 percent in 2018 to 24 percent in 2020. But many EAPs will keep those utilization rates and other data reports as quiet as possible -- they don’t want you to see how poorly they’re serving your staff! So search for an EAP that’s happy to provide usage data anytime you want it.

We mentioned those extremely low utilization rates above – a program that will work with you to increase that number is a great goal when choosing an EAP. The problem is, at traditionally structured EAPs they’ll benefit more the less they’re used. Seek out an EAP that’s willing to provide reporting so you can keep an eye on this number. Better yet, when choosing an EAP, look for one that will help you raise awareness about the program and its services. Most EAPs will leave that engagement rate up to you. But an EAP that will work closely with your organization and can get your team on-boarded and participating, will help greatly increase your employees' use of the program. Choose an EAP that helps you out!  

EAPs for mental health

Get More for Your Money

EAPs are meant to have a positive impact on employees' health and wellness, and result in less business dollars being spent on resources, staff time, absenteeism, low employee productivity, and employee benefit costs in general. Typical return on investment (ROI) for businesses that choose to have an EAP is $3.00 or more for each $1.00 invested in the EAP. When choosing an EAP, make sure the money your business is spending will come back around.

Employee Assistance Programs have become a benefit offered by most companies! An impressive 78% of companies provide EAP services to their employees. So as you consider joining the ranks of companies that choose to support their employees' mental health, keep in mind these advantages to providing an EAP--but also the potential pitfalls! Choose wisely and make sure you’re getting the best return on the investment you’re making in your team.

Try the Un-EAP

And if you’re searching for a program that will provide transparent reporting, certified counselors, do the heavy lifting to get your team on board and using the services, plus additional fun services such as virtual yoga and meditation sessions, all on one easy-to-use, confidential platform… look no further! Learn more about the #unEAP and try us out risk free.  

Stop stacking benefits. Start being well. Set a Nivati demo


By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take the place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement. Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.