71% of employers use EAPs in the UK
EAPs are among the most commonly used wellbeing interventions in the UK with the EAPA’s own 2013 Market Watch report claiming that almost 14m UK employees are covered by EAP provision and other data from Employee Benefits suggesting that 71 per cent of employers in the UK using EAPs (Employee Benefits, 2013). These figures suggest that EAPs have the ‘reach’ to make a significant impact on the well-being of a large number of UK employees, saving UK businesses a considerable sum in reduced sickness absence and improved productivity.
While there is considerable data on the coverage and take-up of EAPs, research on their clinical impact (Selvik et al, 2004) and economic utility remains relatively sparse. There have been a number of reviews of the effectiveness and impact of EAPs over the last twenty years, conducted to examine the benefits of their use in different national settings (eg in the USA where employers bear many of their employees’ healthcare costs, in Australia where there is a workers compensation system which seeks to minimise the cost of workforce ill-health) or for different purposes (eg counselling, alcohol dependency, debt support, relationship counselling) (Courtois et al, 2004).
EAP ROI [return on investment] reports
Examining the cost utility or ‘return on investment’ (ROI) of EAPs has been a specific area of investigation for academics, health economists and occupational health professionals. Several respectable studies have been conducted which explicitly seek to identify ROI (Blum and Roman, 1995; Dainas and Marks 2000; Harris, Adams, Hill, Morgan and Soliz 2002; Hargrave and Hiatt, 2005; Jorgensen, 2007; Hargrave et al, 2008; Attridge et al, 2009; Attridge et al, 2010; Morneau Shepell, 2011; Flanagan and Ots, 2012). Most of these studies arrive at positive ROI estimates, with a range between $4 and $10 dollars return on a $1 dollar investment. However, many of these studies are complex and inaccessible and some fail to translate their findings into messages which are readily digestible by businesses and policy-makers.
The EAPA has worked with IES to conduct a short study to examine the evidence of ROI for EAPs. The resulting EAP ROI tool provides the user of an assessment of the economic returns which can be achieved.