'Short-term counselling offered through EAPs work very well for employees and employers alike'
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) can offer definite benefits, in terms of mental health, work performance and financially.
That’s shown in a recent report that looks at the results for people about three months after EAP counselling:
- 56 per cent of people said that their issue was making it difficult to concentrate on work; after counselling, this was reduced to 28 per cent of all cases.
- 37 per cent reported dissatisfaction with life overall, indicating a level of clinical distress; after counselling, the rate was reduced to 16 per cent of all cases.
- 32 per cent reported not being engaged in their work; after counselling, the rate of all cases was reduced to 23 per cent.
- 29 per cent missed a half day or more of work time; after counselling, this was reduced to 13 per cent of all cases.
- 22 per cent reported feelings of dread when going to the workplace ("workplace distress"); after counselling, this rate was reduced to 13 per cent of all cases.
"Short-term counselling offered through EAPs work very well for employees and employers alike," says Barb Veder, vice president of global clinical services, research lead and chief clinician at Morneau Shepell, which released the 2020 Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) Report with the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA).
"At a time when employees need convenient and effective support for work and life issues, employers looking for a cost-effective way to both provide this benefit while countering presenteeism and absenteeism should strongly consider an EAP."
Investing in an EAP also yields return on investment for businesses of all sizes. The estimated ROI ranged from 3:1 for small-size employers, 5:1 for medium-size employers and 9:1 for large-size employers in the United States.
EAPs also result in cost savings ranging from about $2,000 to $3,500 per employee, from reductions in work presenteeism (87 per cent of total return) and absenteeism (13 per cent). A break-even 1:1 ROI was possible even at a very low utilization level of just one EAP counselling case per every 100 covered employees, according to the report.
When absenteeism and presenteeism were converted into hours of lost work productivity, the average employee case had 63 hours of unproductive time when in distress before EAP use. After counseling, this was reduced by 43 per cent to 36 hours. Other research showed the typical worker is unproductive for 27 hours per month.
The findings were generally consistent across client age and sex, region, industry, clinical issue, number of counselling sessions, length of treatment, whether the EAP was provided by an external vendor, internal staff, or a hybrid model, found the report based on the insights of 35,693 employees with self-reported data collected between 2010 and 2019. A total of 38 different sources provided data, including 20 EAP vendors, 17 employer-based programs and one industry group of external vendors largely in the United States.
There are several factors that make an EAP successful, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS):
- strict confidentiality
- being open to workers and their immediate families
- recognition and commitment by management, workers and unions that an EAP is needed.
- policies and procedures supported by top management, workers and the union
- establishment of both formal and informal referral procedures
- promotion of the EAP and encouragement to use the service
- managers and workers educated on how to access the EAP
- periodic evaluation of the EAP to be sure the needs of both the worker and the employer are being met.
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