The Differences Between EAPs and Employee Wellness Programs

November 22, 2019


According to the Health Enhancement Research Organization, more than 90% of business leaders say that promoting wellness can have a positive impact on employee productivity and performance. It is no secret that healthy and happy employees help to create a productive and positive work environment. Two of the resources that employers can make available to their employees are Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and employee sponsored wellness programs. While some people may use these terms interchangeably, or think that they provide the same benefits, there are significant differences between these two types of programs.


Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are work-based intervention programs designed to provide confidential assistance to employees for personal problems they may be having that could affect their performance at work.  EAPs are a popular add-on that may be offered in conjunction with employer provided health coverage. The most common use of an EAP is usually to address mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, but over the years these programs have expanded to offer assistance with financial or legal problems, relationship struggles, and child or elder care. EAPs normally are provided to employees at no cost to them and provide short term support.   EAP support is offered via phone calls, video-chats, email, and face-to-face counseling. The services are usually available not only to the employee, but also to their spouse and dependents


Employee wellness programs are another popular benefit. These programs are designed to help employees maintain or improve their health. They can take a variety of forms including on-site fitness centers, smoking cessation programs, or weight loss challenges. Wellness programs are not meant to be health insurance, but they can provide health screenings and education. By promoting healthy behavior for their employees, employers benefit as well. According to the Buffett National Wellness Survey, companies with wellness programs report 11% higher revenue per employee and decreased absenteeism.


Both these programs serve an important purpose. EAPs can help employees navigate specific challenges they encounter in their life while wellness programs help to encourage and support a healthy lifestyle. Should an employer decide to invest in both programs, a wellness program can supplement an EAP, and vice versa. If you have questions about offering these types of programs in your workplace, we would be happy to assist you.

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