The value of employee assistance programmes:
Presenteeism and workplace distress reduced. Work engagement and life satisfaction improved
Figures revealed today show that during the pandemic year, structured counselling and therapy was able to help huge numbers of employees back to work.
Covering from February 2020 to January 2021 inclusive, during the worst of the pandemic, figures from one of Towergate Health & Protection’s leading employee assistance programme (EAP) providers, show the vital role of counselling and therapy in improving workplace wellbeing.
There were nearly 9,000 engagements with this one EAP provider alone in the 12-month period. Of those employees who were absent from work prior to starting therapy, 38% were back at work within eight weeks of therapy (one session per week).
Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection, comments: “During the pandemic, and beyond, keeping valued employees at work, or helping them to return to work, must be a major aim of any health and wellbeing programme. It is really good to be able to prove the return on investment of such programmes, specifically counselling and EAPs, and to see the positive impact they have for employees and, consequently, employers.”
While in 2020 a large volume of calls were, not surprisingly, regarding mental health issues (43%), the figures demonstrate the much wider role of EAPs, with 21% of all calls being about legal issues, 9% about relationships, and 9% work-related.
Main reasons for counselling calls
For counselling calls, anxiety was the greatest reason for employees to make contact, followed by low mood, issues relating to a partner, depression, bereavement, and work-related stress.
Recognised industry scoring systems are used to assess the attitudes of employees when they first contact the EAP and again at the end of the process. It was found that, as a result of the assistance after just eight weekly sessions, presenteeism declined and workplace distress reduced; and work engagement and life satisfaction increased.
The generalised anxiety disorder GAD-7 and patient health questionnaire PHQ-9 scoring systems were also used. These are designed to facilitate measurement of anxiety disorders and depressive disorders respectively, and are national standards used by GPs and psychiatrists to ascertain the severity of the issue. Following structured therapy, the figures for 2020 showed a 53.5% improvement in GAD-7 results and 57.5% improvement in PHQ-9 scores, showing a significant positive effect in wellbeing as a result of support from the EAP.
Brett Hill explains: “The results essentially show that employer-sponsored EAPs and counselling works. The employees were much improved overall, even after a relatively short period of therapy.”
The results follow efforts Towergate Health & Protection has made to increase access to remote clinical services for clients during the ongoing Covid restrictions. Help for struggling employees is essential in the midst of the pandemic and it is available through various means, as EAPs adapt to support customers.
The net promoter score (NPS) given to the EAP was 85.3%. This relates to how the employees felt about the help they received and whether they would recommend the service to a friend or colleague. Such a high NPS shows how positive an experience the assistance programme was and the level of appreciation and worth that employees associate with this type of employee benefit.
In Covid times, offering independent support on the phone and remotely online, to help employees with a wide range of issues: from mental health to financial worries, from relationship problems to work-related demands, is a hugely positive option. The worth of such services is seen directly by the employees and by the company for which they work.