The field of employee assistance programs is often considered ambiguous, especially when trying to pin down concrete evidence of its worth in a report for senior executives. HR professionals must find a way to gain insight into how useful a program is, and if it is worth the investment for the organization, while protecting the privacy of the employees who use it. The following websites provide some help for decision-makers to keep in mind when choosing a new EAP, or evaluating an existing plan.
A handbook on EAP evaluation
Consad Research Corporation offers an EAP handbook on its website. Click on the “EAP Handbook” link in the top right corner. The table of contents provides more links to the corresponding chapters, as well as brief chapter subtitles. Chapter five looks at program evaluation in detail, including the reasons for evaluation, the reasons for resistance, how to conduct “process and outcome” evaluations, the elements of a successful program evaluation and benefit/cost structure analysis by example. The chapter points out that “EAP evaluation should be an ongoing process, supplemented periodically by more specific investigations to answer timely questions about the program.” Subsequent chapters look at the impact that shifting demographics and organizational change have on EAPs. Overall, a valuable resource for HR professionals.
The University of Miami implemented a new method for measuring the return on investment of its employee assistance program in 2002. This paper outlines why the changes were necessary, what the old method was and what its deficiencies were, and the process for creating a new tool. It goes on to demonstrate how success was achieved. Although the report itself is an evaluation of University of Miami’s EAP, the method outlined is a good frame of reference for HR professionals looking for a means of more accurately calculating ROI on a subject that is notoriously difficult to measure.
What vendors say HR should consider
This site posts some interesting information on what EAP vendors believe are the most important factors decision-makers should consider when choosing an EAP provider. It points out that ethical concerns in marketing practices have been called into question due to increased competition for contracts, and that EAP providers have been marketing less on what they provide, and more on cheaper pricing that undercuts the competition. This can be misleading to decision-makers. The site states that “while some of the products are the same, the emphasis and internal resources that go into some products and services will be different depending on the EAP. These differences and the success that is achieved by them are what pricing should reflect.” The site provides information on participating EAP vendors and outlines the top 10 criteria for decision-makers to consider along with a description of each.
Some research info
The Allen Group, an EAP provider, offers an abstract from an Employee Assistance Society of North America article on its website that deals with outcome studies used to determine EAP effectiveness. Although the article is pro-EAP, it does touch on some different methods used to measure client satisfaction, and makes mention of some studies and surveys previously conducted on the subject. Worth skimming for additional resources.
Shannon Simson is Canadian HR Reporter’s resource editor. Her Web Sight column appears regularly in the CloseUp section. To share an interesting HR Web site, contact email@example.com.