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The Difference Between Psychosocial Risk Management and Employee Assistance Programs

Psychological Health & Safety
Discover the difference between Psychosocial Risk Management and EAPs, and learn how both can contribute to a psychologically safe workplace.

Creating a safe and supportive workplace that promotes the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees is crucial in ensuring a healthy and productive workforce. There are various tools and strategies that organisations can employ to achieve this goal, such as psychosocial risk management and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). While both approaches aim to promote employee wellbeing, they differ in their focus and methodology.

Psychosocial risk management aims to ensure alignment with state and national regulations on managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace. The focus is on proactively identifying the causes of workplace injuries to reduce the likelihood of mental illness or injury caused by workplace factors. This approach involves;

  1. Assessing the presence of psychosocial hazards.
  2. Determining the level of risk to employees.
  3. Implementing control measures that eliminate or reduce risk.
  4. Evaluating the effectiveness of control measures.

On the other hand, EAPs focus on individual wellbeing. While some EAP programs include webinars, workplace training, and coaching, the most common support offered is employee counselling, (e.g., for mental health, nutrition, physical activity, and financial wellness). EAPs provide support to employees who seek assistance after the psychological injury has already occurred and work with them in their recovery. The onus is predominantly on the individual to change through learning new coping strategies, having a safe space to disclose challenges, or through other behaviour change goals. 

While both psychosocial risk management and EAPs aim to promote employee wellbeing, they differ in their focus. Psychosocial risk management works on changing the system and preventing mental injuries, whereas EAPs work on supporting the individual and recovering from mental injuries. Both play an important role in employee wellbeing.

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