Employers need to do more to encourage take-up of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), according to a new report.
EAPs can be hugely beneficial for people with mental health problems or on prolonged sickness absence. But despite the benefits, EAPs have a very low take-up.
The Lancaster University Work Foundation’s report, suggests that many people see an EAP as a last resort. They are not being used to guard against problems escalating in the first place. Currently, managers seem to be using EAPs too late in the day. EAPs can support individuals to feel more in control of situations and for employers to improve organisational performance.
The Lancaster University report claims that EAP providers present a fantastic opportunity for organisations. They can identify problems that might be contributing to high levels of sickness absence and mental health issues among employees.
EAP providers can also support organisations to take steps to prevent problems from occurring in the future and to break down these common barriers to productivity and performance.
Reposition and rebrand to encourage take-up
Employers need to reposition and rebrand EAPs for them to be effective. EAPs have negative connotations for many people. More needs to be done to combat any stigmas and actively promote the support EAPs offer, the report argues.
The report’s findings also show that little evaluation of the impact of EAPs by HR teams. Almost a third of respondents admitted that there was no evaluation in place at all. Key metrics such as the impact of EAPs on productivity or sickness absence are not being measured. Few are even reviewing the quality of such programmes at all, let alone the ROI.
Many HR teams are overlooking the useful data EAPs can provide. This has the clear potential to boost employee wellbeing strategies. There are calls for HR teams to make better use of the professional support available to support staff wellbeing, in the same way that organisations are quick to utilise other types of consultancy services, such as public relations or accountancy.