February 28, 2020

EAPs vs. Coaching: Why not both?

On-demand, confidential support for employees is a hot topic for People leaders. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and coaching come at issues affecting employee retention and engagement from different angles, so how do you choose? You don’t have to. Here’s why we think the two can be a perfect pair. 

In this corner: Employee Assistance Programs

While EAPs programs vary, they generally feature a confidential hotline that employees can call for free counseling, and sometimes provide employees with a set number of free in-person therapy sessions. EAPs are geared toward people going through a high-stress, crisis moment (like grief, depression, and major life changes). 

The focus of these programs is on mental health, but there is no limitation on what users can talk about. We all know by now that “leave your personal life at the door” is an impossible request, so EAP conversations about personal matters are still inextricably tied to work. Employees’ personal lives and mental health have a huge impact on their ability to do their best work.

(Read more: Talking about employee mental health doesn’t have to be scary.)

In the other: On-Demand Coaching

Coaching programs also vary, so we’ll use ourselves as an example. Bravely connects employees to professional coaches (we call ours “Pros”) who can help them meet their potential at work. Employees can have ongoing engagements with a Pro toward a long-term goal, or book in-the-moment sessions for acute situations.

Coaching helps people find their path forward and strategize how to get where they envision themselves. Confidential sessions allow employees to be open and honest about their experiences at work. 

Bravely provides aggregated reporting and analysis to the companies it works with, while protecting employee anonymity.

The gaps 

But while there are similarities, there are also gaps left unfilled when a company chooses one program over another. 

Personal vs. Professional. EAPs are specialized around mental health and substance abuse, while coaching supports employees in their lives at work. A holistic approach offers employees resources for both — look no further than burnout, which is rooted in workplace issues but manifests in mental health symptoms.

Adoption gaps. We find that when teams have Bravely, employees’ relationships with Pros can be starting points for their adoption of resources they might not otherwise use, like internal HR or an EAP. Working with a coach helps them to clarify their needs and create an action plan to move forward.

Why not both? 

You want to build a network of support that takes your talent to the next level. Providing multiple complementary avenues of support to your staff demonstrates how deeply invested you are in your people, and gives your team their best shot at success. 

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