347,000 more staff used an EAP in 2021


Soaring numbers of UK workers looked for support from an employee assistance programme (EAP) last year, research has revealed.

The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) found that 347,000 more employees used an EAP in October 2021 than they did a year earlier.

Its data is based on evidence from information provided by 3,200 HR professionals using the association’s UK Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator to analyse EAP usage, impact and financial returns. More than 1,000 calculations were made in the 2021 period through the tool.

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With usage up from 10.4% in October 2020 to 11.4% in the same month last year, employers were seeing a higher ROI from their EAPs, the report said. For every £1 spent on an EAP in the UK, employers saw an average ROI of £8.00, up from £7.27 a year earlier.

Large employers have seen increases in their EAP ROI of up to 50%, up on average from £8.43 to £12.75 for those with 5,000 or more staff, and from £8.47 to £12.48 for those with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees.

EAPA UK board member and research project lead Paul Roberts added that figures like these on usage and ROI do not convey the full picture of what is happening among employees.

“We know from all of our conversations with EAP providers that the average call now involves more complexity, more employees with multiple issues to deal with, meaning more stretch and strain for operations,” he said.

“EAPs have stood up to the test, dealing with the additional volume of calls and contact, more need for ongoing counselling, and continue to do so despite shortages of counselling staff,” he said.

EAPA UK Chair Eugene Farrell added that higher EAP usage was here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“During these times HR needs to be demonstrating the specific value of its focus on wellbeing, and the ROI data can be part of this: for benchmarking; illustrating the value of active communications and engagement; and for looking at the potential impact of trying different models of services and changing the level of investment,” he said.