22% see an increase in the use of employee assistance programmes


More than a fifth (22%) of HR manager respondents report an increase in the use of employee assistance programmes (EAPs) by employees, according to research by Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation and the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (UK EAPA).

The evolution of employee assistance: investigating the use, impact and reach of EAPs in today’s organisations report, which surveyed HR managers at 88 organisations, also found that 9% of respondents have attempted to evaluate their EAP in terms of a cost utility benefit or return on investment via the impact on sickness absence, productivity, performance or engagement.

The research also found:

  • 57% of respondents report that EAP services are being used by employees seeking support for depression, and 56% for family events.
  • A fifth (20%) of respondents say that EAPs are being used for support around difficulties with line managers, 15% for workplace restructures, and 6% for bullying.
  • 68% of respondents say EAP services are being accessed by managers looking for support on how to manage workplace issues, for management consultation (49%), and management information on employee and organisational interventions (44%).
  • 6% of respondents believe that EAP usage levels have decreased, and 72% feel they have remained unchanged.
  • 31% of respondents have not attempted to evaluate the quality or impact of the EAP in place at their organisation, and 9% do not know whether any evaluations have been carried out.

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Dr Zofia Bajorek (pictured), researcher at The Work Foundation, said: “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. EAPs are one way through which employers can be seen to promote positive employee health and wellbeing, however the research indicates that HR can be doing more to promote this service.

“Amidst 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.”

Andrew Kinder, chair at the UK EAPA, added: “Our digital working lives are ever-faster, more mobile and flexible. They are also more demanding, pressurised and dependent on resilience. The issue for HR is whether the workplace culture, management and its support services have kept pace with all the changes?”