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What is an EAP? An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers staff 24/7 access to free assessments and counseling from professionals. They can receive guidance on mental health &/or substance use challenges, workplace stress, grief, relationships, finance or any other subject covered with full confidentiality from employer.

Writer: Lisa Quigleyย 

What is an EAP? And why you should want it for you & your staff

As restaurants are finally returning to open their doors to eagerly awaiting guests, it is time to reimagine what creates a successful restaurant, for guests, staff, and business alike. There has been a lot of talk about the โ€˜labour shortageโ€™ in the hospitality industry and the connection to inadequate pay, benefits and treatment. Now is truly the time for restaurants to invest in wellbeing programs for their staff. This will not only demonstrate support for their employees in a time of great uncertainty but it has been proven to reduce employee turnover and actually increase business [1] Being back to full capacity while understaffed plus experiencing major supply shortages and more takes a toll on hospitality workers mental health. Amongst diners and general community members, there also seems to be an attempt at more conscious efforts of where to dine since having learned about the unfair treatment of hospitality workers throughout the pandemic.

A great solution of support can be an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers employees at all levels and their dependents 24/7 access to free assessments and counseling from professionals with full confidentiality from their employer. They can receive guidance on mental health and/or substance use challenges, workplace stress, grief, relationships, finances or any other subject/concerns that could affect personal wellbeing and work performance. Not all places of work offer this to their employees, so it is important to ask.ย 

If you work in the hospitality industry or foodservice sector, itโ€™s unlikely that your employer provides this service. Itโ€™s sad and frustrating that access to an EAP is normalized in so many other industries but such a rarity in ours. This is especially disheartening because we are one of the leading industries to suffer from immense mental health and substance use challenges. As an industry based on inconsistent wages and scheduling, irregular hours, and lack of benefits, our community is one that could benefit the most from EAP services. Not only do the employees benefit from these services, but employers would also benefit because their staff would feel more supported and seen by their workplace, in turn, improving work ethic. [2]

Companies that invest in their employeeโ€™s mental health and wellbeing achieve positive ROI with increased staff retention, increased productivity, and reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism [3] The World Health Organization estimates that poor mental health costs the global economy US$1 trillion annually, and at least CA$50 billion per year in Canada with direct costs related to health care and social services. Plus, there is an additional CA$6.3 billion of indirect costs related to loss of productivity (employee turnover, absenteeism, presenteeism) due to mental health related issues. Companies with EAPs and other mental health programs and benefits implemented for three years or more saw a median yearly ROI of CA$2.18. [4]

โ€œCreating a healthy and safe workplace, one that protects both the physical and mental health of employees, is essential to achieving business objectives and shareholder returns.โ€ [5]

EAP counseling is often a short term, problem-solving service, and typically runs for a few sessions. If longer-term or more specialized services are required, your EAP counselor may help identify and refer you to the professional that is best suited to your needs. EAP counselors are often helpful with referrals to outside support that takes financial disparities into account, for example, services available on a sliding pay scale, are free, or that may already be covered in your benefits.ย 

Typically the EAP service is provided to employees at no extra cost. As an external provider to your company, you can book appointments outside of your regular work hours and location for better confidentiality. The amount of sessions varies depending on your workplace and the service provider, but it is typically no less than three one-hour sessions, many being upward of eight sessions a year.ย 

EAP services would be very beneficial to our hospitality community because they are accessible around the clock, 365 days in a year. With our unconventional work hours, folks can contact them whenever is most convenient. Anyone can reach out directly to the EAP to book an appointment with a counselor, but some will also have professionals readily available to address emergency situations immediately by phone. If they do not, they will provide you with other local crisis hotline numbers to call.ย 


Whilst we have acknowledged that our industry is lacking in accessibility to these programs via the workplace, we are SO excited and grateful to share that there is an incredible organization out there that offers an EAP to all of its members free of charge! Mind The Bar Foundation is a not-for-profit mental health resource, information & support initiative designed by the hospitality industry, for the hospitality industry. To become a member of Mind The Bar, the only requirement is working in food and beverage services. Mind The Bar covers all of the annual costs for you to access LifeWorks wellness and support system, which offers elder care & child care matching, legal services, financial & debt support, nutritional & weight management, naturopathic, education, relocation, parenting, midlife & retirement, career, and everyday issues. You can reach out to, or go to their website to receive access to this incredible employee assistance and support program for yourself, your staff or someone else. We are so proud to have an organization like Mind The Bar a part of our community and are thankful they have made this service available to all of us.

Want to learn more about supporting your team? Check out: How to Support Your Team as an Employer

ID: Text based image outlining what an Employee Assistance Program is with Not 9 to 5 logo in top right corner.โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹
Title: What is an EAP?โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹
โ€œAn Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers staff 24/7 access to free assessments and counseling from professionals. They can receive guidance on mental health &/or substance use challenges, workplace stress, grief, relationships, finance or any other subject covered with full confidentiality from employer.โ€