What is an EAP?

An Employee Assistance Program is a workplace-based program that provides services to employers and their employees to help with the human side of business. Employees are provided with confidential, professional assistance to themselves and their family members if they are experiencing any personal challenges or issues that may be impacting their work or their lives. These services are provided to employees at no cost to them, as the services are paid for by the employer.

The EAP also provides services directly to the company in many ways. Managers and supervisors can obtain consultation on any of the issues they face with challenging employees or situations they may not be trained in dealing with. EAPs also provide trainings to the company, debriefings and critical incident response services after a traumatic incident that impacts workers, and consultation to company leaders on the human side of business issues such as layoffs, downsizings, restructuring, and any type of organizational change.


How much does it cost?

The funding of EAP is relatively simple. Employers contract with the EAP for services, usually capitated on a per-employee per-year basis. Smaller companies may arrange an EAP contract based on a retainer and a fee-for-service basis. To give you a quote for your company, we would need you to complete the "Getting a Quote" section, and we will use this information to prepare a cost-effective quote for you.


Can I afford not to have an EAP?

There have been many, many studies on the Return on Investment (ROI) for EAP, and they all show the benefits for companies. The worst research result was that occasionally companies break even, but most studies show that companies make money for every dollar they spend on EAP.

Employees troubled by personal problems cost organizations more than twice as much as fully-functional employees cost organizations. These problems, when untreated, cost the company in higher absenteeism, higher health care costs, higher turnover, higher presenteeism, higher accidents, and lowered productivity and profitability. 

That is why most companies have EAP's -- it's not only the right thing to do to take care of employees, it's the smart thing to do.


The ROI of EAP: What are the benefits of an EAP?

Health care cost containment

  • The Campbell Soup Company after implementing an EAP experienced a 28% drop in per employee behavioral health care costs alone.
  • Abbot Labs compared total medical costs of EAP users with those of non-users. Those who used the EAP averaged $9,156 less per person for inpatient care than those who had not used the EAP.
  • McDonnell Douglas had an independently conducted longitudinal study conducted on how EAP impacted their health care costs, and found an overall ROI of 4:1 -- a savings of over five million dollars. Especially notable were the costs of alcoholics who used EAP and those who didn't -- the average per case medical claim expense for those didn't use the EAP was $9898 higher than those who used the EAP.


  • Again, the McDonnell Douglas study showed a 4:1 ROI -- employees who used EAP services had fewer absences, fewer accidents, and stayed with the company longer.
  • A Conference Board study found 21% fewer accidents, 35% reduced turnover, 59% lower abenteeism, 62% higher productivity and 68% increased morale among EAP users.

Employee retention

  • Given the average cost of terminating an employee, and recruiting and training a new one, if your EAP saves one job per year it has probably paid for itself. It's really the most direct and cost-effective way of letting your employees know they really are your most important resource.

Litigation avoidance/legal defense

  • Since the mid-1980's, employee lawsuits have doubled annually. EAPs help companies with an added level of defense in a variety of lawsuits, including wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
  • "Although it seems unfair that employers are stuck solving so many societal problems, fairness isn't an issue when there are no other options. By helping employees help themselves, employers can help their bottom line. An independent EAP is the best way to achieve both goals without creating unnecessary legal exposure." -- Jonathan Segal, "Ignorance is Bliss," HRM Magazine, December 1995


How do I evaluate an EAP?


  • Does the EAP only provide employee counseling or a full range of services that serve each and every supervisor, manager, or leader?
  • Does the EAP provide trainings that can help roll out the services (to increase utilization), and support the company's policies and organizational culture?

Qualitative Differences

  • Are counseling and assessment services provided mainly in person or by phone to save costs?
  • Does the company understand Hawaii businesses and local-style ways?
  • Is the staff diverse? Trained? Experienced?


  • Will the EAP tailor their program to our company's needs and then remain willing to do what they must, when they must, to assist our organization and its employees? Or is a one-size-fits-all organization that expects us to adapt to them?
  • Are they here, local, on the islands where our employees live and work?
  • Are they available 24/7/365? Do they have counselors available?
  • Would they be here for us on our worst day?

Customer Loyalty

  • Do they have long-term relationships with organizational customers as well as the providers they refer employees to?
  • Do they provide testimonials or references I can check with about their services?

Other Considerations

  • Are office locations convenient to my employees?
  • Is the pricing plan flexible?
  • Are the providers credentialed and available?
  • Do they have a website that would help our employees?
  • Do they provide Utilization Reports that help us track utilization as well as why people see them while balancing the confidentiality of our employees?


Why should I get involved with these issues?

As an employer, you shouldn't be involved in the personal lives of your employees. Yet employers who employ human beings will ultimately be impacted by their human issues. Your choice is how you manage these human issues, and EAP is usually your most cost-effective way of doing so. Employers should not be offering their employees advice on marriage counselors, alcohol/drug misuse/abuse, depression, domestic violence, problems with keiki or kupuna -- in fact, offering advice puts the company at risk in case the advice doesn't go well or actually makes things worse. By referring employees to your EAP, you can not only be helpful, but you can then more rapidly get back to business.