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Understanding EAP usage and ROI

Providing employees who need it with proper mental health support pays back dividends

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The return on investment for wellbeing & EAPsHow many employees access EAPsWorking out the ROI for EAPsWhat's the alternative to EAPs?

Spill costs less per therapy session than an EAP, because 10x more people use it.

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Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) offer mental health support from as little as 40p per employee, per month. But can they really represent good value for money? Let’s crunch some numbers.

The return on investment for mental wellbeing initiatives

A Deloitte report in 2020 proposed that for every £1 spent on supporting people’s mental health, employers get £5 back on average as a result of reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

  • Presenteeism: coming into work while experiencing poor mental health. It’s nearly impossible to perform at full capacity when you’re feeling exhausted, distracted or unmotivated.
  • Absenteeism: taking days off work due to poor mental health. 
  • Turnover: the costs of replacing employees who have left for mental health reasons. That includes things like recruitment, training, and new salary costs. 

The return on investment for EAPs

A report in the same year by the EAPA (the Employee Assistance Programme Association) calculated that employers will earn back an average ROI of £7.27 if they invest that £1 in an EAP. That’s a boost in ROI of £2.27. So far, so positive. But these results look a bit less shiny if we think about the number of people who actually access help through their EAP (and the cost of everyone who doesn’t).  

The cost of poor mental wellbeing 

A 2022 study by Deloitte has added up the cost of poor mental health to employers in the UK (and it’s actually gone up by 25% since 2019). Again, this cost can be attributed to presenteeism, absenteeism, and staff turnover. 

🤯 £2,646:

The cost of poor mental health, per worker, per year

[The average annual cost to a business in the professional services industry, which includes advertising, accountancies, consultancies etc. This rises to a staggering £3,710 per worker  for finance, insurance and real estate businesses]

How prevalent is poor mental health at work? 

Mind UK estimates that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. So we can assume that 25% of your team will, too. (Though it’s likely that up to 55% of your team don’t feel that mentally limber, even if they’re not experiencing an acute problem.)

And how many people typically access EAP services?

EAP usage sits at around 10%, according to a report by the EAPA. But that includes anyone accessing EAP services at all, which might mean calling the support switchboard or reading some self-help resources about anxiety online – not necessarily receiving treatment (in the form of counselling or therapy) for their mental health problem. That proportion is much, much lower.

Sharon McCormick, clinical director of The Listening Centre spoke to the BACP (the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) about national EAP services in 2020, and she reported:

“Out of 1,000 calls, they signpost 60% to self-help. About 20% need financial and legal help, and those who need debt advice are signposted to a national charity at no cost to the EAP. Another 20% may need counselling but they left it to them to contact the counsellor and many didn’t.”

To put that into context, only a fifth of the 10% of your workers who contact your EAP (so, 2% total) will be invited to take part in meaningful counselling. Whether they’re in the state of mind to chase it and get booked in is a different matter. 

Working out the ROI for EAPs: the anti-maths

That’s at least 23 people in your mid-size business who need therapy this year, and won’t receive it. 

[No. of people untreated] x [Average cost of poor mental health per person]

= 23 x £2,646 

= £60,858 cost to your business, every year 😱 

Even for a small business with 20 employees, that’s over £12,171 a year in cash lost. That’s not to mention the personal cost for anyone struggling with their mental health. It’s hard to reflect how truly painful that can be in business-y figures like these.  

What's the alternative to EAPs?

💡 At Spill, we believe that (waaaay) more than 2% of your team deserve proper mental health support. That’s why we’ve made it easy for every employee to access therapy anonymously through Slack and MS Teams. We also offer therapist-led manager training and a clever tool to proactively track your team’s mood without a big monthly survey.  

Typical Spill usage averages at 50% of staff. That means, if we go back to our 100-person company, not only can we reach those 25 people who need help, we’re also helping 25 others to proactively maintain their mental health and prevent those problems from cropping up in the future.

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