How HR can make the most of EAPs

New analysis of the biggest ever data set on Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) usage, impact and financial returns in the UK shows an average return of £7.27 for every £1 spent.

But the level of return on investment (ROI), in terms of benefits for wellbeing and productivity, were found to be dependent on how engaged the employer was with their EAP, the level of communication, and in particular, whether there was a more remote workforce.

The report, Financial return on EAPs 2020: how does your organisation compare?, highlights how organisations operating across a national network of sites (where there’s an average of £6.61), as well as those operating in a less office-based environments such as agriculture (a £4.12 average) are likely to see lower levels of ROI.

Without a centrally based HQ employees appear to be less engaged with EAP services and the breadth of their potential for providing support; the presence of HR and internal communications may be less overt.

With employee wellbeing genuinely front and centre of organisations’ thinking and WFH becoming the norm, HR need to ensure their EAP, as an essential support service, is being run in the most effective way possible.

Further reading

Four in ten employee helpline calls relate to mental health

Employers boost wellbeing funding during Coronavirus pandemic

Two in five UK companies change employee benefit programmes due to COVID-19


An EAP is an important and valuable benefit – more so than ever before – and should be central to employee communications. The everyday role of an EAP for supporting health and wellbeing should be made loud and clear in both digital content and physically around the workplace.

That means making use of every format possible, posters, flyers, desk prompts and emails but also infographics and video clips to get the message across about the range of services available and topics covered.

A proven approach for more effective comms is to focus on individual aspects of the EAP rather than the EAP as a whole, running campaigns around topical issues affecting employees: finances, sleep, stress, family relationships, etc.

Encourage access

Keep reminding staff about all the access points available to engage with an EAP: phone, online, chatroom, app. Different kinds of conversation are best for different people.

Experiences from EAP providers suggests that more working from home has meant less privacy, and some employees feeling unable to speak to an EAP.

More providers have been building their stocks of online resources, videos, webinars and podcasts, to help employees during the COVID-19 period.

Have active managers

Managers play a vital role in connecting their team members with the best support for them. They need to be alert to the needs of staff – the difference between someone having an ‘off day’ and needing particular help with an issue.

Managers need to be in a position to discuss the EAP during any one-to-ones with line reports, and make sure the EAP is being referenced regularly as part of conversations and not just when there’s an obvious problem.

The EAP should be flagged at each new stage in the employee’s journey: induction, moving to a new role, a promotion, having a new manager etc.

Embed in standard materials

The EAP should be omnipresent as part of the HR offering in an organisation, with an EAP service link included in all the standard HR materials – in the footer on letters to employees, emails and memos.


ROI calculations allow HR to check the progress of your organisation against others nationally, in the same region and same sector. Regular use of the tool is a way to provide a useful headline figure in management reporting, in budget discussions with finance, and to explore the potential impact on ROI from making changes in levels of investment, awareness promotion and usage.

Paul Roberts, executive board member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA UK) and director of Enlighten