What is EAP Counselling and Does my Business Need It?

Mental Health

An EAP counselor giving support and advice to a patient

Many employers now recognise the negative impact mental health issues have on the wellbeing of their staff. One in five employees is affected by poor mental health which costs Australian businesses $10.9 billion annually. Giving staff access to EAP counselling is one way organisations are fighting the problem. It’s not just for the employee’s benefit - EAP has a high return on investment through reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and providing a safer, more caring work environment.  

What is EAP Counselling?

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselling is a service employers offer to their staff to support well-being in both their work and personal lives. Employers may also extend the short-term psychological assistance to family members of employees. EAP counselling providers should use qualified and registered psychologists.

EAP can assist individuals with relationship issues, family problems, conflict at work or home, anxiety, depression, grief, addiction, anger, career management and sleep difficulties or anything else someone needs help with.

The benefits of offering EAP are compelling. Everything from reduced absenteeism, improved employee retention and a strong return on investment make offering EAP an easy choice for many Australian businesses.  

Benefits of Providing EAP Counselling to Employees

It’s easy to write a business case for offering EAP workplace counselling. Some of the most compelling reasons are:

EAP has a Positive Return on Investment

A Pricewaterhouse Coopers study showed that for every $1 an organisation spends on mental health initiatives, they receive a positive return on the investment of $2.30. The benefits are due to the reduced compensation claims, and a reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism (poor productivity). Any business owner would be happy with that kind of return.  

In some industries, the return on investment is even higher than the average of $2.30. In the gas, electricity, water and waste services sector the yield is as high as $6.70, for the public administration and safety industry the return is $3.60. The mining, media, telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing, financial and insurance services also reported higher than average ROI on providing EAP to their people.    

People Can Get Immediate Access to Help in a Crisis

Most EAP services offer 24-hour telephone support, so employees have immediate access to help. Stress can build up over time and escalate to conflict or even violence, so if a staff member can gain counselling early, they may avoid further problems. Without EAP many employees wouldn’t access a counselling service because they don’t know where to find one or they aren’t sure if they can afford it. Early intervention is the key to solving many personal and work issues.   

Productivity Suffers Due to Mental Health

According to Heads Up, there are 6 million working days lost to untreated mental health issues every year in Australia. A further 12 million days have reduced productivity due to workers' mental health conditions. By providing an EAP service, workers have access to a professional who can help them deal with their anxiety or depression, so they stay at work or come back to work sooner than if they had no help. Reducing lost productivity has a direct impact on business profit margins.

Staff Retention Improves with Empathy

The cost of staff turnover can be as high as 1.5 to two times the annual salary of a staff member. Many businesses dread losing staff yet overlook basics things they can do to make staff feel valued. If employees feel they have a community that empathises with them, a natural affinity will exist.

Asking staff how the business can help them and regularly reminding staff to use the EAP service if they have any concerns are simple things employers can do to create a caring environment for employees. It’s the environment that can be the difference between a valuable employee staying or moving on.

Employers are Required to Provide a Safe Environment

Workplace health and safety laws actually require employers to provide a workplace that is safe for workers’ mental health as well as their physical safety. Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011, employers must minimise the risk of psychological harm by implementing effective control measures. Workplace stress, bullying and discrimination can cause anxiety, depression, distress, panic attacks, poor sleep, physical illness and an increased risk of suicide. Recognising and responding to psychological risk factors including the offer of EAP counselling ensures employees are doing what they can to provide staff with a healthy work environment.

Employers can assume that poor mental health relates to employees’ personal lives, but it’s not always the case. Work difficulties trigger mental health and well being issues for workers across all industries. Whatever the cause of the problem, the outcome is the same. Both the employee and employer suffer until the issue is resolved. EAP Counselling services offer fast, easy to access and effective resolutions to employees.


If you would like to discuss how EAP Counselling can help your staff and the business, call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.

Category: Mental Health