Workplace Support

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

Learn why HR leaders and decision-makers should invest in an employee assistance program to support recruitment, retention and the well-being of your workforce.

A photo of Inkblot blog author Sanskriti Ravi smiling.
Sanskriti Ravi
May 17, 2023
minute read
A white woman and a Black woman sit beside each other on a couch while viewing something on a laptop screen.
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).

It is no secret that the modern workplace is changing. In recent years, trends such as quiet quitting and increasing levels of burnout have led employees to demand better mental health support and more robust benefit packages. According to the HR Reporter, over 1 in 3 Canadians report burnout, making it an imminent employee health risk and increasing potential disability costs for organizations

An employee assistance program can help prevent, manage, and solve common workplace wellness concerns, including stress management, anxiety, burnout, depression and more. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about EAPs, and the transformational impact an EAP can have on organizational culture, employee well-being and productivity. 

What is an employee assistance program?

An employee assistance program (EAP) or employee and family assistance program (EFAP), is an employee benefits program that supports a larger mental health and wellness strategy unique to each organization. An EAP is funded by an employer and focuses on sponsored hours for counselling sessions from a vast network of practitioners. In addition to counselling services, most EAPs offer customized supplementary services based on an organization's needs and budget. Some other mental health and well-being services may include clinical consultations and health and wellness programs such as life and career coaching and financial and legal advisory. The overall goal of an EAP is to provide employees with the tools and resources to be better equipped to address work and life challenges, including common concerns like stress management, substance abuse, burnout and more. 

How does the EAP work?

An EAP program is usually offered by an employer to employees and their dependents at no cost, often through an independent EAP provider. Employers sometimes provide an in-house EAP program by directly employing service providers, such as an on-site counsellor, although this tends to require high levels of investment. 

Many organizations work with third-party EAP providers, such as Inkblot By GreenShield*, to offer customized EAP benefits based on organizational needs. Inkblot provides two options to help HR professionals build the right EAP services for their workforce.  

Overview of the Inkblot EAP for organizations of all sizes 

Inkblot’s EAP takes a digital-first approach to provide accessible and personalized care for the modern workforce. As part of our full spectrum of care, the Inkblot EAP offers comprehensive individual and couples counselling, with the option to add supplementary services anytime. Our personalized questionnaire matches employees with qualified therapists based on their unique mental health concerns and personal preferences. Appointments are booked using a simple online system for phone, video, or in-person sessions with a therapist at their convenience.

Our additional add-on services are built to meet employee needs across the continuum of care, including health and life coaching, legal and financial advisory, specialized clinical services, webinars and more. We also offer Tranquility, a digital program that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help people with anxiety and depression achieve their wellness goals.

Whether addressing an acute health crisis or seeking ongoing ways to optimize your team’s total well-being, the Inkblot EAP has the right program to help every member of your workforce feel their best.

Build customizable counselling support with Inkblot Access

Inkblot Access is a customizable benefits program for secure and online counselling, perfect for organizations new to building their mental health solutions or looking to improve their existing counselling offer. Unlike traditional counselling services with long-wait times, Inkblot Access helps employees match with a counsellor that meets their needs and can book an appointment within 24-72 hours. Our personalized matching questionnaire matches employees with the best therapist to suit their needs based on clinical experience, cultural fit, language and more.

What is the purpose of an EAP? 

The demand for more mental health support in modern workplaces has signalled to providers that a full spectrum of care is required for recruitment, retention and the overall well-being of the workforce.

An EAP aims to help prevent, address, and often resolve the personal and work-related issues employees may experience. This makes it essential to have a full spectrum of care options available to address the differing needs of a diverse workforce. HR professionals understand that healthy and happy employees are likely to deliver their best work performance and that comprehensive EAP benefits signify their commitment to employee well-being. EAPs are a great way to start prioritizing your organization's mental health strategy. They can provide HR leaders the tools to respond better to changing dynamics between employers and employees. 


Who has access to EAP services? 

Generally, EAPs or EFAPs are offered to employees and their dependents at no cost. EAP services exceed most companies' standard health benefits and sponsored hours. While it can be encouraged, participation in an EAP usually cannot be mandated unless for more specific last-resort reasons. Instead, participation remains voluntary and completely confidential. EAPs can also help increase company-sponsored counselling services for employees.

What's the cost of an employee assistance program? 

The cost of an employee assistance program varies depending on the type of program offered, workplace size, provider agreements and other specifics that may pertain to your organization. Once you have found the right EAP provider to service all your organizational needs, pricing is flexible and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

Usage of an EAP has been proven to lead to more engaged, happy, and motivated employees, leading many companies to prioritize investment in EAP programs. Despite the increasing adoption of EAPs, utilization rates for EAPs across Canada remain low. This is because many traditional EAPs have complicated systems, still rely on archaic 1-800 numbers, and have long wait times to get employees the care they need. Employee satisfaction and utilization are essential to get the highest return on your investment (ROI). Therefore, choosing the right EAP involves finding a provider with solutions across the health spectrum to address diverse employee needs, prioritizing ease-of-use through a digital-first platform and allowing employees to continue accessing care even after benefits max out. 

Learn more: How to choose the best employee assistance program provide

What are some of the benefits of an EAP?

Adopting and utilizing an effective EAP program could lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher motivation, improved job performance and lower disability costs. EAPs encourage employees to prioritize their wellness and provide access to support, resulting in early identification and prevention of declining emotional and physical health. These factors affect individual employees and can create lasting and positive changes in company culture, leading to higher employee retention rates and greater job satisfaction. 

The Inkblot EAP is built to support employees by providing access to mental health counselling, wellness resources, coaching services and more to help your team navigate all areas of life. 

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

Digital-first approach and personalized therapist matching 

Our easy-to-use digital-first approach leads to higher engagement than traditional EAPs. Part of the digital experience is Inkblot's personalized matching questionnaire, which helps your employees find their best therapeutic match based on clinical expertise, cultural fit, language, availability and more. Online therapy sessions are conducted with privacy and security measures in place to ensure a safe and confidential experience. 

Simplified onboarding and reporting

Eliminate stressful workloads with a simplified onboarding process that ensures seamless EAP integration. Our team provides promotional materials, training, and account management support to meet your organization's needs and can assist every step of the way. We also offer in-depth reporting to help you better understand organizational utilization and employee satisfaction and help you continue building a workplace mental health and wellness strategy with simple solutions and recommendations to meet your goals.

Customizable programs and services 

We understand that well-being support looks different for everyone. Our supplementary programs and services allow you to offer additional mental health and wellness support to your employees when they need it most. Feel confident knowing you can scale your mental health solutions up or down with add-ons that include our specialized clinical services, support for traumatic events, stress management, topical webinars, substance use and addictions support, internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), and much more.

Continuity of care for long-term success 

While traditional EAPs often only offer short-term support and a band-aid approach to care, Inkblot’s EAP prioritizes continuity of care to ensure employees can get the help they need even when benefits max out. Employees can continue to book appointments through the Inkblot platform after their sponsored hours have been utilized. At that point, sessions can be reimbursable through the employee’s paramedical benefit coverage, health spending account (HSA), or paid privately. 

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

Get higher engagement, comprehensive care and better results with Inkblot

When it comes to work-life balance, the reality is that work and personal lives rarely remain separate. Both affect one another and impact motivation, productivity and mood. Employers with a solid long-term retention strategy understand this well. The right employee assistance program can be a cost-effective way to improve employee retention, transform company culture, and support your organization's long-term growth. Particularly in tandem with standard health insurance and benefits, an EAP provides employees with resources to build resilience and confidently manage stressors, personal problems, and work-related issues.

To learn more about how an Inkblot EAP can improve the health of your workforce, book a demo with our team. 

* GreenShield means, collectively, Green Shield Canada (GSC), Green Shield Association, and Green Shield Holdings Inc., which is the primary company that houses health services and benefits administration businesses, including Inkblot Therapy, Tranquility, NKS Health Canada, The Health Depot Pharmacy, Benecaid, Honeybee, BCH Consultants and Computer Workware Inc. Green Shield Holdings Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the not-for-profit Green Shield Association.