Impact of EAPs not measured

HR managers are failing to evaluate the impact of their employee assistance programmes (EAP)s

The Work Foundation report, The evolution of employee assistance: investigating the use, impact and reach of EAPs in today’s organisations, found that a third (31%) of HR managers had never attempted to evaluate the quality or impact of their EAP, and 9% did not know if there had been an evaluation. Only 9% had conducted such an evaluation.

The most common organisational uses of an EAP among the 78 HR managers and industry professionals surveyed were for depression (57%), and coping with family events (56%). Workplace issues were found to be less commonly reported, with difficulties with line managers (20%), workplace restructures (15%), and bullying (6%) the most frequent reasons for workplace-related calls. The overall average level of use of EAP services is 5%.

However, 12% of those surveyed admitted to not investing in an EAP at all. The most common reason for this was a lack of information about EAPs (44%), followed by the organisation already deploying other wellbeing practices or initiatives (33%).

One in five (22%) cited cost as a reason for not having an EAP. When asked what might persuade them to implement a programme, respondents stated wanting evidence of their effectiveness – so financial cost-effectiveness (33%) and evidence that they improve wellbeing and productivity (33%).

Zofia Bajorek, a researcher at The Work Foundation, said it is HR’s responsibility to promote an organisation’s EAP.

“Creating the right conditions for employees to work in, and promoting ‘good work’ in organisations, is important when considering the health and wellbeing of the working age population,” she said. “EAPs are one way employers can be seen to promote positive employee health and wellbeing, however the research indicates that HR could be doing more to promote this service.

“Amid this turbulent economic environment where budgets are increasingly tightened, it is now more important than ever to promote these services and determine what the cost benefits of EAPs are for both employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes.”