Know your Benefits: Five Key Differences Between an EAP and a Resource Navigator

Posted on June 4, 2019

Resource Navigation is a new way for employers to support the unique needs of frontline workers. Resource Navigators work hand-in-hand with your employees to solve the challenges that impact their financial stability, connecting them to individualized community resources and providing ongoing support.

This concept of a resource to support the needs of employees outside of the scope of their employment has similarities to the Employee Assistance Program (or EAP). Since their inception in the 1970s as a way to address alcohol and drug use in the workplace, EAPs have been a popular part of the benefits package for employers competing for top talent. Today, 97% of companies with more than 5,000 workers and 74% of all businesses in the US offer EAPs.

EAPs offer a range a services, providing phone-based support for marital or family issues, substance abuse, work stress, and legal counseling. As effective as EAPs can be in addressing some of the problems employees face, many employers are choosing to add Resource Navigation to their traditional benefits for these five key reasons:

Our service is personal

When your employees reach out to a Resource Navigation, they will connect a person who will take the time to understand all of their unique needs and challenges. When working with us, employees will never interact with a call center. In fact, they will have access to the direct email and phone number of their Resource Navigator. We can provide office hours where employees can drop in or schedule off-site meetings for employees worried about privacy. We meet them where they're at and we work to build their trust so your employees will feel comfortable and confident reaching out whenever they need support.

Our service is flexible

EAP resources often require employees schedule appointments ahead of time to connect with solutions. Resource Navigators are available to help employees on their schedule. They can offer set office hours or meet outside of business hours. Employees are connecting with a person, not a hotline, and they can call, text, or email—whatever works best for them. And we never limit the number of times they can ask for help. Most EAPs will limit your employees to a certain number of sessions, but Resource Navigators will work with every employee as long as they need, and it never costs the employee a dime.

We have local expertise

Because EAPs are a remote, phone-based service, they are rarely familiar with the community where their clients live. They often provide resources to a large portfolio of clients, working on a national or global level. Resource Navigators work directly within their employer partners' local community. A key part of their service is building strong relationships with the resources that serve that community, such as food banks, legal aid, and mental health care. They know which counselors can offer sliding fees, where their clients can get discounts on car repairs, and the income limits for government subsidies. They have specialized expertise in the issues, resources, and solutions that are available at the local level.

We address financial health

For frontline workers with a modest income, the underlying problem behind most challenges is financial. Resource Navigators work to address every aspect of their clients' financial situation, from helping them create a budget to planning for long term goals to finding access to emergency funds. Navigators have connections to local resources for financial training, loan programs, credit advocacy, and more. We understand the challenges your employees are facing—like the high costs of housing, healthcare, and childcare—and we know how to help. In comparison, the top five reasons employees access EAP services are marital problems, stress, anxiety, depression, and child behavior.

We think of the individual

Resource Navigators find personalized solutions for the challenges that frontline workers face. They meet one-on-one to get the full picture of the employee's situation. They integrate the benefits offered by employers, community support resources, government programs, and other creative solutions. They work with local vendors like childcare services and auto repair shops to negotiate tailored solutions. They partner with the employee to find a solution to address their immediate concern and they help them feel better prepared to tackle future challenges. Once the Navigator and the employee have addressed the immediate concerns, they can continue to work together to build greater stability or work toward long-term goals.


Resource Navigators are at the heart of our service—an innovative response to the challenges frontline workers face and to the needs of employers who want to engage and retain their employees, improve job quality, and support their workforce. Navigators provide tailored solutions through their connections to community resources, as well as their deep knowledge of your employee benefits, to create a smart, customized intervention to support each individual’s needs. Navigators may refer an employee to an EAP when that is the right solution for their challenge, but the Navigator has knowledge and access to resources and support that go far beyond what an EAP can provide.

Topics: sustainable workforce model, resource navigator, innovative workplace benefits, workforce support,


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