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March 9, 2021
Employee Assistance Program ROI Validated Again
Written by: Norman Winegar
As more Americans than ever struggle with mental health issues as we enter the second year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, yet another study has shown why comprehensive, full-service Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are so important to both employees and their employers. This latest confirmation of Employee Assistance Program ROI and effectiveness came from the 2020 Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) report that was just published. The WOS is a well-recognized research tool that measures EAP effectiveness in quantifiable business metrics. For the 2020 study, the sample included over 35,000 employees in 26 different countries with self-reported outcomes after using their employer’s EAP’s counseling interventions. The WOS measures business-related outcomes such as workplace presenteeism, workplace absenteeism, levels of personal distress, employee engagement, and overall life satisfaction. The report found significant improvement in all five areas. (Full disclosure: Espyr uses WOS and reports aggregated outcomes data to its customers.)
WOS Study findings
Here are a few key findings of the 2020 WOS study.
• Presenteeism. The 2020 study found that presenteeism (be present and working but while distracted and having trouble concentrating on work tasks) for employees who used the EAP improved significantly. More than half of all cases (56%) reported that their issue was making it “difficult to concentrate on work.” After EAP counseling, the incidence of workplace presenteeism was cut in half. This is especially significant to safety-sensitive positions or positions involving interactions with the public or other businesses.
• Total Lost Work Time. The 2020 study converted absenteeism and presenteeism into the total hours of lost productive time at work. The average user of EAP counseling had an alarming 7.9 days of lost productive time during the 30 days before the start of counseling. The good news was that after EAP counseling, productive time had been restored by more than 3 full workdays per month.
• Overall ROI. Employers need to understand their return on investment (ROI) on EAPs. It is substantial. The 2020 study found that ROI for employers in the US ranged from 3:1 for small size employers, 5:1 for medium size employer and 9:1 for large size employers. The results found cost savings ranging from about $2,000, to $2,500 to $3,500 per employee using the EAP.
• Depression. Clinical depression is the leading cause of disability and lost wages worldwide according to the World Health Organization. The study found that employees identified with clinical depression by the important screening or case-finding aspect of their EAP and who as a result started on a long-term care program for a depressive disorder, had the most extreme and helpful benefits. This is more evidence of the substantial negative impact that clinical depression has in the workplace.
• Risk Reduction. Sometimes its helpful to examine how programs reduce risk to employees and the 2020 WOS study showed that EAPs do just that. In other words, it examined how most employees who were at risk for one of the outcomes before counseling vs. how many were still at a problem status after the EAP counseling. EAPs reduced that risk, making the workplace safer and healthier.
This recent WOS outcomes study and its report card on Employee Assistance Program ROI should be reassuring to advocates of employee health and wellbeing. It demonstrates again the positive clinical outcomes over large populations of employees in differing industries who have access to comprehensive EAPs. And the tremendous value EAPs offer. But a word of warning: not all EAPs are equal. In fact, far from it. “Free” or bundled programs included as a “bonus” addition to a health benefits package are less effective and impactful than full service or comprehensive programs. Free EAPs provided through bundled benefits packages are able to make money because they discourage engagement. But if employees don’t engage with their EAP they’re obviously unable to reap the EAP’s benefits.
Today would be a great time to visit with your EAP vendor or benefits broker to review your program’s benefits and visibility.
About the Author
Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, NCAC II is the Chief Clinical Officer at Espyr. For over 30 years, Norman has practiced in mental health, substance misuse, and EAP settings. He has also worked in leadership positions in both public and private sector behavioral health organizations. An author of four books, he is frequently called on for presentations and as a panelist to share his expertise and experience as a mental health professional.
For over 30 years Espyr, has provided innovative mental health solutions – solutions like our AI powered chatbot, TESS – to organizations operating under some of the most challenging conditions. Espyr’s portfolio of customized counseling, coaching and consulting solutions help people and organizations achieve their full potential by providing mental health support and driving positive behavioral change. For more information on how Espyr can help your organization, call Espyr at 888-570-3479 or click here.
2020 Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) Annual Report finds EAP counseling significantly improves employee wellbeing, ability to concentrate and on productivity.
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