Survey Shows an Increase in EAP Utilization in Declining Economy
A survey of members of the Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA), a trade association for employee assistance program (EAP) providers in North America, shows that the current economic situation has fostered an increase in the utilization of employee assistance program (EAP) services. The EAP services increasingly in demand address financial, legal, and stress issues.
Survey respondents, which included EAP providers, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, showed an 88.2% increase in request for financial services, the highest single service area affected. Requests for help coping with stress were up 82.4%, while requests for legal services were up 41.2%. Requests involving domestic violence and those involving substance abuse were both up 11.8%.
Many EAP providers are working with companies hurt by the declining economy. More than 60% of respondents have seen an increase in the number of request to assist laid-off employees, participate in downsizing efforts, or otherwise assist in outplacement services.
A US Federal Occupational Health study of almost 60,000 EAP clients found that the number of people who reported having a lot of difficulty performing work before beginning the EAP was reduced significantly after concluding EAP sessions. Those who reported little or no difficulty performing work increased greatly after using EAP. When beginning EAP counseling, clients reported an average of 2.37 days of unscheduled absences or tardies in the prior 30 days. After the end of EAP sessions, clients reported being unexpectedly absent or tardy an average of .91 days in the previous 30 days-a 62% drop in average lost time away from work.
According to EASNA President Barb Veder, "Research consistently shows that EAP services have a positive return on investment. EAP services are cost effective because they reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. Business leaders now consider mental health critical to business success, not just a health care benefit to be administered. At a time when retaining good employees is more important than ever and the economy is challenging even for the best companies in North America, EAP is the smart investment."