Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are designed to support employees with work and life challenges. The death of a loved one, the end of a long-term relationship and even workplace personality conflicts are all examples of issues covered by EAPs.
Over the years, EAPs have been developing at a rapid rate. Indeed, according to the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), access to them has increased by nearly 300% in just 10 years, with almost half the UK workforce now covered.
But today, EAPs are going way beyond just traditional telephone-based and face-to-face counselling, extending to offer services relating to legal information, debt support and even help with accessing a suitable care home or nursery.
Some EAPs are also providing the governance needed to support mental health first aiders, as well as helping organisations meet their duty of care for individuals in high-risk roles when they are subject to abuse or trauma, or have to view disturbing images.
[Related reading: How To Setup Your Mental Health First Aid Training For Success]
It’s also become the norm in recent times for EAPs to have web-based platforms. This allows employees to more easily access a wealth of information and support, while providing employers with in-depth insights into financial returns, cost savings, outcomes and more. Live instant messaging sessions are also a feature of many of the latest EAPs, enabling employees to discuss topics like mental health issues without fear of being overheard.
Effective EAP communication is paramount
However, EAPs sometimes suffer with low take-up and awareness rates, which is why it is paramount that employers effectively communicate such schemes and highlight the range of benefits they afford. Uncommunicated, EAPs will not get utilised and employers will inevitably see take up rates of just 1% or 2%. On the other hand, well-communicated EAPs – especially ones with plenty of wellbeing features – frequently have take up rates of between 20% and 30%.
Going forward, we are likely to see EAPs with more Artificial Intelligence elements, which should increase utilisation rates even further. For example, Care First’s Woebot, which provides support to individuals with low mood problems via an app, enjoyed a 20% utilisation rate in its first month of being offered at one company. The bottom line is nearly all (if not every) employee has a smartphone, so EAP elements that are delivered in this way are likely to prove popular.
The EAP market is under pressure from many angles and to the outsider looking in the picture could be very confusing. With the move to app-based information, employers may wonder what they should be investing in and whether they should consider embedded services linked to other products.
The pace of change we are seeing now will continue and to ensure a return on investment is achieved, employers will need to adapt. With this is mind, some insured products may become top heavy, lose the main reason they were put in place and, in turn, make it more difficult to move insurer.
The best solution is to speak to us to help deliver a platform valued by both employer and employee alike.
Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.