The Difference Between Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and LifeGuides

Written by:

Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides

Have you ever experienced stress at work? It’s a silly question.

Of course we’ve all felt stress inside the workplace and, to an extent, it’s a necessary component of our growth and development. However, stress levels of employees have escalated so high in modern times that they are infiltrating our personal lives and damaging our health. Recent data confirms what so many of us are feeling:

  • 76% of respondents said workplace stress "had a negative impact on their personal relationships"

  • 66% have lost sleep due to work-related stress

  • 16% have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming

Employers have traditionally offered Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to address employees’ work and life stressors, but only with some success. According to this discouraging data, there is significant room for improvement. LifeGuides was created to fill this gap.

LifeGuides is an online platform that connects employees who are facing Life Challenges to Guides who have been in their situation and have made it through stronger. It taps into humanity’s most valuable resource, our Life Experience, to help them through life’s most difficult and distracting times.

It’s a complement, not necessarily a replacement, for the support provided by traditional EAPs. Still, they can be easily confused when spoken in the same breath. Let’s breakdown the difference between these two valuable services.

Who provides the service?


Finding the right support through your EAP at work often involves a multi-step process. Companies may require requests for support to be directed at internal HR departments or customer service lines.

After understanding your situation, this first line of service will then route you to the appropriate professional service. These professionals are typically licensed professionals who have been clinically trained, but may or may not have directly experienced the same challenge the requesting employee is facing.


Online or over the phone, LifeGuides matches employees with a trained and experienced Guide who has experienced the same Life Challenge the requesting employee is facing. This service is handled outside of internal HR departments. Employees can either match with a Guide on their own online, or speak with a LifeGuides Well-Being Concierge to complete the process.

Guides are diverse people from all walks of life. Their goal is to forge one-on-one relationships with employees to walk with them on their journey and provide a safe space support.

What Life Challenges do they cover?


EAPs generally address a broad swath of issues affecting an employee’s mental and emotional well-being. These issues can therapy sessions, grief counseling, family trouble, bankruptcy, and substance use disorder.


Employees who use LifeGuides can speak with a Guide who has experienced a specific Life Challenge, and the challenges covered are virtually limitless. Life Challenges can include support for natural disaster loss, divorce, caring for a loved one, and more. A Well-Being Concierge learns about the employees situation and matches him/her with a Guide who has been through the same experience.

Support for urgent matters?


EAPs are generally used as a reactive, urgent approach for an immediate need. They are typically footed in providing solutions-based strategies, not necessarily long-term relationships, to help employees cope.


LifeGuides is not a crisis hotline. It centers on a proactive, empathy based approach to help employees navigate Life Challenges. Because many of these challenges do not have a “solution,” participants are invited to share their experiences, learn coping strategies, and find strength in their challenge.

Are they confidential?


Because requests to use EAPs are typically funneled through HR departments, there is a perceived risk of confidentiality breach by seeking help. This fear is one driving factor behind Big contributing factor behind EAPs 5% average usage rate.


LifeGuides reduces the burden on HR departments by operating autonomously or in partnership with the company. This allows complete confidentiality between employee and employer. LifeGuides does not share any personal information.

What is the cost structure for employers?


EAP services are usually 100% paid by the employer, and pricing is PEPM. Typically, they are made available to all employees, immediate family members and unrelated people living in their home. A typical program provides 6-8 counseling sessions and an unlimited number of telephonic sessions.


Pricing is available either PEPM, or charged solely on usage.

What is the cost structure for employees?


The copay for EAPs varies based on the service provided and insurance coverage, but most offer 6 advisory sessions free.


There is no employee copay until over 12 Guide sessions have been completed. Any additional sessions are affordable and do not require insurance approval.

What are the service limitations?


EAPs handle referrals to suidice lines, addiction centers, therapists, legal counsel for a bankruptcy and the like. Additionally, employees only have access to the services, therapists, etc. that are covered under the EAP’s premium.


LifeGuides does not handle suicidal participants (only their families), or provide direct mental health counseling, legal/tax services, or any service that requires licensure.

EAPs serve an important role in supporting employees through difficult times. But in today’s climate, with rising stress levels, diminishing social connection, and rampant disengagement, LifeGuides fills an arguably even more important need.

Both LifeGuides and EAPs are important services to offer your employees to show them you care about their well-being. They’re equally important for recruiting as well as productivity, but greater than that, they are helping us create more enjoyable, purpose-driven experiences at work.

Ready to bolster your Culture of Caring? Schedule a time to talk with our VP to learn more about how LifeGuides can unlock your employees’ full potential.