Workplace Support

How To Choose the Best Employee Assistance Program Provider

Gain a better understanding of what criteria to consider when choosing the best employee assistance program to help build a workforce health plan.

A photo of Inkblot blog author Sanskriti Ravi smiling.
Sanskriti Ravi
May 17, 2023
minute read
A woman happily works on her computer at an office desk.
A photo of Inkblot blog author Sanskriti Ravi smiling.
Sanskriti Ravi
Sanskriti Ravi is a Content Marketer at Inkblot with a keen interest in making mental health services more accessible to underserved communities and breaking down the stigma surrounding getting help. When she is not writing, she loves listening to live music, attending a yoga class, and discovering new ways to expand her wellness practice.
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Disclaimer: This article contains guidelines or advice not intended to self-diagnose or treat. No content should be used as a substitute for direct advice from a qualified professional such as your doctor or mental health professional. Please reach out for support from a certified professional related to the symptoms you may be experiencing.

If you are in crisis and require immediate support, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Alternately, please contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7). For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553).

Investing in an employee assistance program (EAP) has become an obvious solution for many organizations looking to safeguard retention rates, improve job performance, and build a more positive company culture. However, evaluating the quality of EAP benefits is essential to see the highest return on your investment. Whether you are looking to improve your existing wellness programs or are just starting to create a mental health strategy, we provide you with all the knowledge you need to choose the best EAP for your organization.

What should I look for in a good employee assistance program?

When utilized effectively, an EAP can transform the workplace by providing employees with the tools to manage life’s challenges better and stay motivated. However, not all EAPs are created equal. The best-in-class EAPs encourage high employee engagement by prioritizing convenience, accessibility and real-time care. The criteria below will help HR leaders evaluate whether an EAP is suited for their workplace needs. 

Digital-first approach

How employees access care is a critical factor that separates the best wellness programs from the rest. Rather than relying on archaic 1-800 numbers and extended waitlists, gold-standard EAPs use a digital-first approach to allow employees to access mental health support within 24-72 hours. By placing a comprehensive range of wellness services on a centralized online platform, employees can get the proper help by pushing a button. 

Customizable and personalized services

It takes more than just counselling to ensure employees are feeling their best. The right EAP provider offers various supplementary services across the health spectrum so employers can scale their EAP up or down as needed. Whether it's specialized support with career, health, financial, legal, substance use, eldercare, family relationships, psychological assessments and more, good EAPs should be able to service all the specific needs of your employees. 

Other indicators of an effective EAP

The following are some other elements you may want to look for before you decide to invest in an EAP to achieve the highest return on investment: 

  • Seamless continuity of care supports employees' long-term health by allowing them to use services even after their benefits are up. 
  • A flexible online booking system to allow employees to book appointments that suit their schedule with ease. 
  • An intuitive and user-friendly interface ensures employees can find the support they need when needed. 
  • Transparent and in-depth reporting on key metrics to evaluate the success of an EAP and help HR leaders build their mental health strategy.
  • A simplified onboarding process that makes EAP integration easy.
  • An EAP promotion plan to assist with immediate uptake of the programs and services offered.
  • A wide range of customizable services that provide support within 24-72 hours.

Learn more: What are the advantages of employee assistance programs (EAP)?

Understanding traditional vs. modern EAPs 

Finding the right support can be challenging. Many traditional EAPs are plagued by inadequate technological innovation and outdated procedures, further complicating the process. A modern wellness program is not built for a one-size-fits-all approach but aims to optimize your team's well-being. Understanding the difference between a modern and traditional EAP is crucial when searching for an EAP to fit your organization's needs. 

The comparison chart below outlines the key differences.



How do I recommend the EAP to employees?

The best EAP provider understands that high employee engagement is essential in an effective wellness program. While the internal promotion of an EAP is important, an EAP provider should play a key role in educating employees on the programs and services available through regular email communication, training, and webinars. Monthly newsletters and frequent information sessions your provider hosts help direct employees to your EAP service. To go one step further, modern EAP providers should offer various promotional materials, including posters, wallet cards and brochures, to assist HR leaders in their internal communications.

Learn more: What issues can be addressed with an employee assistance program?


What is the best way to find out if an EAP has a good reputation? 

When searching for the right EAP, it is advised that HR leaders research each program thoroughly. One way to find out if an EAP has a good reputation is to ask for testimonials from other companies that have used the service. This will give insight into the effectiveness of an EAP and the providers' client relationships. Employers can also evaluate an EAP's track record by asking for clinical improvement rates that indicate how quickly well-being symptoms decrease after accessing the employee assistance program. 

An EAP provider should be willing to work collaboratively with HR leaders to build a well-being solution that addresses any emerging workplace well-being issues or acute health crises. This can be evaluated by whether a provider maintains regular communication and support throughout the implementation of an EAP. 

Asking the following questions to your EAP provider will help you better gauge the quality and reputation of your employee assistance program.

Questions to ask your provider 

  • What services do you provide outside of counselling?
  • Do you ensure employees can get personalized care?
  • How do you protect the confidentiality of employee information?
  • What are the utilization rates of your EAP?
  • How do you measure employee satisfaction?
  • Do you have a detailed onboarding plan to ensure the EAP is integrated seamlessly?
  • What assistance do you provide to promote EAP programs and services?
  • Do you provide transparent reporting for insights on key program metrics?
  • Do you follow up with employees who have recently used your service and address specific concerns in a timely manner? 
  • Do you provide an account manager dedicated to improving health outcomes?
  • Does your EAP integrate employee feedback?

Learn more: How to implement an EAP in the modern workplace

What is a good way to measure the effectiveness of an EAP?

Discovering the effectiveness of a prospective EAP starts with the wellness providers’ numbers — specifically, utilization rates, client satisfaction rates, partner retention rates, and clinical improvement rates. These measures help employers compare and contrast wellness programs before deciding to invest. Additionally, regular reporting of these critical metrics gives transparent insight into the long-term effectiveness of an EAP solution and allows employers to adjust their mental health offerings according to employee needs. 

Another way to measure effectiveness is by gathering employee feedback after EAP usage to learn more about their experiences and satisfaction levels. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews. Lastly, employers can track specific outcomes, such as reduced absenteeism, improved job performance, or decreased healthcare costs, to evaluate the impact of the EAP on the organization.

Learn more: What is the future of employee assistance programs (EAPs)

Better workplace health is here with the Inkblot EAP

As employees demand better workplace support, many HR departments want to invest in or upgrade existing wellness programs to serve employee well-being better. While EAPs provide several benefits, the ambiguity and variation between EAP services can be challenging to navigate for HR leaders. By using the methods in this article, employers can assess the quality, reputation and effectiveness of prospective EAPs to make informed decisions. 

The Inkblot EAP is a digital-first program offering comprehensive health spectrum support. Clinically designed with the demands of a modern workplace, our EAP is optimized to help your employees navigate all areas of life. Book a demo to learn more about how the Inkblot EAP can help you build your mental health strategy with accessible, easy-to-use, personalized well-being support.