The Act of Violence

Aggression in the workplace.

Why Don't Employees Use EAP Services?

Why don't more employees use Employee Assistance Program services? Read More

EAP programs

Because there is not the same client privilege (perception, perhaps, maybe misconception maybe not)

paid for by the employer, they enter into that relationship

additionally, there remains the therapy stigma

Another issue might be the

Another issue might be the way the company uses EAP. One employer I worked for made it very clear that if an employee is not conforming to their proper pigeonhole, they are BROKEN and need to go use EAP and "fix" themselves without the employer having to speak to the employee, which is too much work. The employer would then repeatedly post EAP notices, and mention in meetings that "everyone" should take advantage of EAP, but wouldn't stoop to speaking to an employee with a problem, even to let the employee know that there WAS a problem.

I sneeringly referred to it as the "psychic hotline" method of management. Call the psychic hotline, figure out that you're a problem, and use EAP to fix yourself. Don't expect management to waste time on you.

It makes little to no sense

It makes little to no sense for companies to pay for an EAP and then not make sure employees know about it and that it's use is confidential. Supervisors and managers should also be trained in monitoring employee's attendance, performance and behavior to make appropriate referrals.


Referring back to the anonymous comment, of not knowing you are "broken" and no one willing to tell you, it maybe that the number one reason that people do not take the step to access EAP is one of denial that there is a problem or that other personal views of services interfere with accepting what is available to them. Was their upbringing one where the message was "we don't talk about those things outside the home"? Maybe the employer/supervisor feels very uncomfortable bringing certain things to the attention of a problematic employee, fearing a law suit. That is quite possible.

Here are some for instances: someone with an active addiction maybe in the defensive posture of denial that keeps them from acknowledging that they need assistance. Another example might be that the employee is not aware of how they are being affected by life circumstances. For example the person may not have much insight into how the death of a spouse or other family member can lead to depression. I have witnessed a Principal pass their employee off to another school rather than confront the issue of a prescription medication problem. That employee was quickly fired for failure to perform adequately at the new school. The real issue was the failure of the Principal to address the real issue, seeking to find an alternative solution that cost the employee the job.

So we can see that there are many reasons why people do not access services.

That's precisely what I was

That's precisely what I was referring to: management shirking their responsibilities. If an employee is not exhibiting problematic behavior, then there is nothing for the company to act on. If the employee is exhibiting problematic behavior, it is absolutely management's responsibility to tell the employee exactly what that problem behavior is, what improvement is expected, and a time frame for doing so. That is, after all, why management is called 'management' and not 'silent observation'. If management is unwilling to do their jobs, they shouldn't whine about an employee not living up to unspoken expectations, and they shouldn't expect that employee to just somehow *know* that something is wrong. If the employee is not performing to reasonable expectation, and management is too timid or aloof to say it, then management is the problem and they need to be replaced. Or perhaps EAP can help them figure out why they are incompetent. :-)

Companies spend a lot of

Companies spend a lot of money on nonsense to push employees throus as a feel good exercise

Penn and Teller's Bullshit tv show exposed a lot of that.

But yes, often it's the corporate culture and the empire building management people and office cliques

protecting that to avoid lawsuits by appearing to provide EAP and comply with non-discrimination laws

but they work in effect often against their mandated purposes

if the so called corrective processes worked

we could end work and school shootings and random public violence

I used to say that we cannot end bullying in school

because then the kids are not prepared to be adults the workplace

but it seems to me that more often than someone being a bully and taking out their self loathing on others

it's the victims pushed to their last breath

who are just not able to defend themselves in anything less than a voilent suicide by cop

Men Don't Like to Ask For Help

As a publisher and distributor of free workplace posters of financial help lines, we are not an EAP but often fill in the gaps where one does not exist. Many times a caller's first question is, "Is this confidential?" And if HR explains that getting help from the EAP is never shared with co-workers or management, real doubt may remain.

The article accurately cites the male reluctance to ask for help. This extends well beyond the workplace. Men don't ask for directions while driving, and tend to choose the pioneer's act of solving their own problems. If they can't find their way, they do equate the "asking for help" with weakness. They'll even wait until help is either too little or too late. As a man, I don't blame men for this, it's just the way we've been wired since we were cave men.

Females generally reach out and call our help lines twice as often as men. Women are wired to cooperate with each other toward a solution. They don't carry the machismo or pride which prevents them from asking for help.

For information about workplace posters or other free resources, visit

Why Don't Employees Use EAPs

First of all, thanks so much for bringing this issue to light. I have been in the EAP field since 1981 and own a company that provides EAPs. The stigma and fear of no confidentiality are big reasons people and their companies don't make full use of EAPs but there is a bigger reason. Not all EAPs are the same. What we have seen over the years is a proliferation of EAPs that are embedded in the company group health or disability insurance packages. In other words, they are low or no cost (supposedly) so employers aren't really aware of their existence and their value. This therefore leads to no promotion and low utilization. The companies we deal with are those who really "get it" and are committed to making their employees aware of the benefit just like the 401K plan or health insurance. They encourage folks to use the program and work very hard to promote its confidential nature. Using EAP as a tool for investing in employees leads to healthier workforces, greater productivity and profitability and higher retention of employees.

I will not use EAP services

I have zero issues seeking any sort of assistance if I need it. However, I deserve the best help I can afford.

All too often, EAPs claim confidentiality, but offer services via internet and phone. Likely, the best EAPs are doing their utmost to follow through on this promise. But NOTHING on the internet is truly private.

Privacy laws vary by country. If an EAP company is purchased by a foreign company my information becomes subject to a different set of laws.

EAPs tend to be larger firms, or owned by large firms. That increases the probability of my information being shared. A small office with a receptionist out front suits me just fine, thanks.

Some EAPs have expanded service options to include everything but the kitchen sink. Including services that are not demonstrably effective.

If I seek any sort of professional service, I want to see a diploma or some type of proof of qualification to provide for my needs. When I go to a dentist, that proof is on the wall. If I contact an EAP, I must rely on what they choose to tell me. Worse, I've noticed that my EAP website is replete with staff claiming to have graduate degrees with no (or little) mention of majors or work experience in the field.

I'm serious about maintaining great mental health. For that reason, if required, I'll seek a qualified practitioner in my area.

Why Don't Employees Use EAPs


Thanks for sharing your concerns. First, in terms of not having any trouble seeking assistance, that is great. I only wish others felt as comfortable as you do. Unfortunately, they don't and only part of the reason is fear of having confidentiality breached. The other part of the reason is shame and the stigma that goes along with seeking help around mental health issues. Therefore, EAPs provide an opportunity for getting assistance and hopefully before things get out of control. That is why many of the services offered by an EAP go beyond counseling. That way, people can get preventive services and trust the EAP better. In terms of confidentiality, records should not be kept with the employer (on his/her server). Secondly, any electronic communications should be encrypted. Also, you make a compelling argument for not having an EAP embedded in an insurance or disability insurer. Our role as EAP is to remain neutral, make it easy for people to access help of any kind (as a resource) and help people navigate the many avenues of help so that they can live and work more productively.

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Steve Albrecht, D.B.A., holds degrees in English and Psychology, and a doctorate in Business Administration. He is a former police officer and domestic violence investigator with the San Diego Police. more...

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