What does an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) Manager do?

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Many mid-sized to large businesses have implemented plans to help improve the quality of work life for employees, and programs like these are usually administered through an employee assistance plan manager. Although there was a slight stigma associated with employee assistance plans in the past, the scope of assistance plan initiatives have expanded beyond providing band-aid solutions for employees with personal problems. Today’s employee assistance plans include various perks and fringe benefits that serve to attract and retain top industry talent. Often the company with the most creative employee assistance plan gains a competitive advantage over others when all other factors are equal. Here are some examples of types of initiatives administered by assistance plan managers, regulations governing many employee assistance plans and the typical career path for employee assistance plan administrators.

Special Benefits Within Employee Assistance Plans

The standard employee assistance plans include counseling programs that address issues like occupational stress, financial and family problems and substance abuse challenges. These are the programs that many employees have been hesitant to access in the past for fear of appearing incompetent and losing their careers; some of today’s employee assistance programs have legal protections for this reason. Modern programs also include wellness initiatives that help employees reach and maintain their health goals by emphasizing physical fitness and developing healthier eating habits. For these types of initiatives, an employee assistance plan manager may contract a third-party to provide personal training, gym facilities and nutritional counseling. Contemporary families increasingly need the services of child and elder care professionals to ease family stress, and many employee assistance programs include these services to help their workers remove stress points that would prevent them from performing their best at work. The implementation of car pool groups along with incentives to participate in the groups is an added perk that makes employee assistance plans increasingly popular.

Regulations and Codes of Conduct for Employee Assistance Plans

Employee assistance program managers utilize third-party professionals to execute their plans, and many of these professionals conduct their business according to the rules, regulations and norms that govern their industries. Most of the services conducted within employee assistance plans involve the collection and assessment of client personal information. Depending on the third-party professional, the information gathered is covered under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 that helps protect patients’ private, medical records. Also, employees with operational roles within their state or federal governments’ department of transportation (DOT) have certain obligations and protections under DOT regulations relating to substance abuse.

Career Path for Plan Managers

Employee assistance program managers generally have human resource management academic and professional backgrounds. Generally, these managers have a combination of an undergraduate degree and many years of experience or master’s degree in human resource management with limited work experience. Some of these human resource management professionals specialized in employee assistance plan administration while taking their human resource management degree programs.


While the area of employee assistance planning does not get as much attention within the human resource management career field as recruiting or training, it is gaining ground as many employees get used to the special, employer-paid benefits offered to employees. A human resource management professional who takes on the role of employee assistance plan manager is responsible for promoting the health and welfare of an organization’s most important assets.