Employee Assistance Programs and Wellness

Employee Assistance Programs AND and Effective Wellness Process

Often there is confusion between an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and an effective,  customized to each individual employee,  wellness program. This comparison is not suitable for generic, wellness programs presented to the masses.

Employee Risk Assessment Best In Corporate Health
Our data for your process: Employee Risk Assessment Analysis, Address those Risks, Chronic Disease Management

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are work-based intervention programs, often part of an employee benefits package,  designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems ( marital, financial, emotional or family issues; substance or alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. I would like to add to that broad definition  – the management of the company actually cares for the health and wellness, happiness of the employees.

The studies I have reviewed in both Canada and the United States say only 3-5% of employees use their EAPs, and the reasons are thought to be:

  • They fear confidentiality
  • Unfortunately, there is a stigma over reaching out for help
  • Misinformation: employees mistakenly  think permission from their boss or HR is necessary;
  • They don’t know it exists…..or think it only covers issues such as substance abuse

The original intent of an EAP was to provide assessment and services for addressing a variety of personal problems and concerns that interfere with employees’ well-being and work performance. Interventions for issues such as depression and substance abuse were delivered in person, by telephone or over the Internet by licensed counsellors, typically offering employees up to six of  sessions.

A different model is often used in today’s EAPs. Now there is an assess-and-refer model: Employees contact the EAP, but instead of receiving traditional  counselling, they are referred to a provider outside of the EAP, triggering a claim on the employer health care plan (this is still a variable between plans and countries).

With the rising cost of health care to both employers and employees, changes in private insurance and public health care plans, the last thing either party wants is to trigger more claims.

The goal of effective, employee wellness processes, that fit each employee, is prevention, being proactive, and yes, dealing with a number of health challenges.

Very often in challenging situations there can be an underlying health disturbance, an imbalance, which could be contributing to the employees issues. Health specialists are trained in identifying unique scenarios, and addressing with appropriate lifestyle modifications.

Example: Stress

stress management employee health programs Best In Corporate HealthWe all know stress is a serious challenge in the workplace. And many of the people seeking help from Employee Assistance Programs are under a great deal of stress, that can be one of the triggers to the personal problem. By not just stress management techniques, but to get down to the  sources of cellular stress – from where stress spreads its wrath – is a huge and overlooked part of managing stress. We don’t want to provide temporary coping mechanisms, we want to provide physiological relief, so issues can be managed more successfully – to be blunt – to allow the treatment to work.

Due to a complex, plethora of reasons, both employer and employees lives are becoming more complicated.

More than 90 percent of business leaders say that promoting wellness can positively influence employee productivity and performance (survey  from the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO).)

The February 2015 survey report, Exploring the value Proposition for Workforce Health, evaluates how employers see a healthy workforce influencing morale, employee  engagement and overall corporate performance. The findings are based on a survey completed between May and July 2014 by more than 500 business leaders from across the U.S., from a variety of industries and company sizes.

Employee Assistance Programs Best In Corporate Health57% of business leaders said their organizations viewed health as an “investment in human capital “ and as “part of the organization’s core business strategy”. Less than a third saw investments in health primarily as a health care cost-containment strategy (30 percent), and fewer still as an expense (13 percent). The HERO study concluded: “This finding is important because it recognizes growing support for a broader value proposition for investment in workforce health and wellbeing.”

A carefully crafted wellness program designed around the employees particular needs can address the drawbacks of an EAP. And of course,  we can identify a need for an employee to turn to the Employee Assistance Programs, assuring safety and confidentiality.


We look forward to customizing your employee wellness programs!

Shira Litwack, Corporate Program Designer
Shira Litwack, medical fitness professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Medical Exercise Specialist, Holistic Nutritionist, Corporate health designer and coach, Health and fitness educator

Chief Health Enthusiast – Best In Corporate Health

Employee Wellness Toronto, Ontario – But offered worldwide!

  • Shira is regularly consulted by Naturopaths, oncologists, health coaches on cancer exercise and exercise adherence.
  • Has assembled over 20 health and fitness professionals with varying specialties to bring to corporate wellness programs
  • Platforms include: Speaking, One-one/group health coaching, Retreats, Course development for in house delivery, Metrics to measure success available, Partners always included
  • Now offering live interactive webinars, just as if each participant has a personal health coach – making corporate wellness programs affordable to all.
  • Shira has been interviewed & published in hundreds of resources over the last 12 years:

Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Medical Fitness Network, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Willow (Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support),

Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Urban Poling for Breast Cancer, ROW – Recovery on Water for Breast Cancer

Shira Litwack, Medical fitness professional |Cancer Exercise Specialist|Personal & Corporate Health Coach | Fitness For Disease Recovery| Industry Expert Cancer Exercise

Director of International Relations Cancer Exercise Training Institute Master Trainer

Radio talk show host/Guest/Producer Health & Fitness Radio