advo HR in association with the employee benefit’s team takes a look at an essential staff benefit, an EAP. It’s cheap but can be of real benefit to both employer and employee. We believe it should be a must have for all employers, large and small.
What is an EAP & how does it work?
We all live busy, hectic and at times, stressful lives. Personal problems, big and small, can often interrupt our work. This can cause anything from a temporary distraction, to a prolonged period of absence. An employee assistance programme (EAP) can provide employees with useful advice and guidance for day-to-day enquiries. These include caring for dependents, financial support or legal services – generally anything which takes time out of the employee’s day. As well as, clinical counselling and support to help cope with more serious personal issues they may be facing.
Disruption in your employees’ lives could lead to business disruption too. Not only does an EAP (as they are generally known) allow you to support staffs’ physical and mental health, but can be invaluable in heading off an employee tribunal where an employee feels they have to leave because support is not given. This is why an EAP is seen as one of the most important staff benefits for cost and benefit, protecting both employer and employee.
It is believed that 22% of UK companies provide this as a staff benefit (Group risk Insurer, Ellipse Benefits Benchmark).
A typical EAP would provide the following:
- Structured clinical counselling, either face to face or via telephone/video, to help an employee deal with any personal, work and family problem they may be facing
- Everyday work-life enquiries – support for individuals with any issues that take time out of their busy schedules – work or personal related
- Help with dependent care
- Legal information and support
- Financial support and assistance, as well as debt management counselling for more serious financial problems
- Career support, advice and coaching
- Support and advice for managers, to help them deal with a challenging workplace situation
- Support in the event of a workplace incident – some EAPs also offer a crisis support service to help deal with any major incident such as a natural disaster, corporate restructuring, or death of an employee
Typically there are two types of EAP, telephone only and telephone and face-to face, where a number of counselling sessions are offered, typically 5 or 6, but this can be more depending on the chosen provider.
You may already have a type of EAP in place already, as telephone only EAPs are usually offered as part of a group risk employee benefit, such as an income protection policy. Don’t get confused by health information lines offered on medical insurance policies as they are not designed to manage a problem through with an employee, just give general information and advice.
Benefits of an EAP
For the employer having an EAP in place can help:
- Reduce absenteeism
- Enhance employee retention
- Improve employee performance and motivation
- Additional management support in managing difficult situations
The benefit for your employees: When grief, depression and stress take hold, it can start to interfere with and affect an employee’s work. With access to an EAP, they can get fast and confidential access to a support network of clinically trained counsellors, who can provide a friendly, understanding voice and a first port of call for employees dealing with a personal crisis.
They also provide a useful everyday advice service, anything from researching local childcare providers, to getting legal information about a neighbour dispute, or help to stop smoking.
What is the cost of an EAP?
For groups of around 100-300 you can expect to pay £4 – £6 per employee for telephone only support and £8-£10 if face-to-face counselling is included. For companies under 100 employees you could expect to pay £12 – £15 for face-to-face. You can also expect to find a minimum price of a contract of £500 per annum regardless of the number of employees.
If set up correctly an EAP is regarded as a business expense rather than a benefit-in-kind for staff.
EAPs are used by all types and sizes of businesses across a variety of sectors. There is no denying an EAP is beneficial for both employers and employees, providing a useful everyday support service, along with clinical counselling and support to deal with more serious personal and work issues.
However, employers must make sure they remind their staff regularly about the benefits of the EAP, to ensure they get the best possible engagement and value from the service. Once employees are aware of their EAP, how to use it and access the services, they are more likely to seek help when they need it – and quickly.
There are a number of providers in the UK with differing costs and scope of cover. Let us know if you would like help in finding the right one for you.
If you would like to know how to find the right EAP for your business you can contact Jamie Tuffield, advo’s head of employee benefits on firstname.lastname@example.org