Are EAP’s worth the money?

The average price of an Employee Assistance Programme has reduced over recent years. Despite this many of our clients still ask “are they value for money?”

Some stats from EAPA

Employee Assistance Programmes 2013 Market Watch The cost of EAPs has fallen since the latest data quoted by the UK EAPA (2008). Today, the average benchmark cost of a full-service EAP for an organisation of 100 employees represents good value at £14 per person, per year (although the price is likely to be significantly lower for larger organisations). Along with an increased range of services available to employees, the potential return on investment for employers has certainly grown in recent years. EAP usage figures vary between providers and there is no universal method of measuring this. It is estimated that overall EAP usage during the recession is up and, in line with this, the return on investment for users has also gone up. As a benchmark, a high usage figure within the industry is considered to be 16% when counting online EAP services as well as telephone helplines for support, information and counselling. Average programme use is around 10% of the workforce but it can be as low as 2%. 

Our thoughts – lets do the maths on one of our client schemes – anonymous

  • 10,000 employees
    £5.50 per head – six session EAP
    £55,000 investment

Data review

  • We have no idea if the 750 calls were the same person or all different as calls can be confidential
  • 750 callers averages 2 calls per day
  • 102 people needed counselling  – 1%
  • 354 face to face sessions 

Value review statement (1)- EAPs provide company wide mental health support 

1% of this population accessed counselling support – is this a high enough % of engagement considering the statistics below:

At any one time, one ­sixth of the working age population of Great Britain experience symptoms associated with mental ill health such as sleep problems, fatigue, irritability and worry that do not meet criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder but which can affect a person’s ability to function adequately (Office for National Statistics, 2001).

Our view

  • If you can help 1% then its worthwhile 
  • To raise this percentage greater engagement is needed which requires considerable effort from organisation and provider!
  • The value can be increased by incorporating the scheme into vocational rehabilitation programme – thus supporting the 40% of absence cases that are mental health related 
  • Any EAP is valuable if part of a holistic mental health strategy – not used as a silo service.
  • Create an annual communications plan – most utilisation tailors off after launch

Value review statement (2)- EAPs are cost effective

  • The average cost of a counselling session through a pay as you go scheme is £55 per session. 
  • If this scheme was pay as you go the investment on counselling alone would be £19470
  • This leaves £35530 for the telephone service and scheme management

Our view

  • EAPs are not for everyone
  • EAPs are by economy of scale usually the cheapest and most hassle free service
  • One alternative is an in house service which although may look cheaper but will have a lot of hidden costs which must be accounted for (scheme publicity, supervision, clinical governance, data management, telephone systems, people costs, patient administration). The true cost can be a lot higher than the EAP.
  • To reduce costs initially a telephone plus adhoc service may be useful
  • The real way to increase cost effectiveness is to maximise usage and have more impact with the money you spend. Work closer with your provider to raise engagement and ensure the EAP is integrated.

Conclusion

YES – If set up to suite the organisation, with a strong engagement plan, supplying meaningful data, integrated into case management and procured well. Cheap is not always better – cost effective – not just cost.

If you want an independent review of your EAP let us know. Call 01257453645