How effective is your Employee Assistance Programme?

How to evaluate your EAP and check you’re getting value for money

EAPs are a great way to implement basic mental health cover if you have thousands of employees. With tempting prices-per-employee but typically low uptake, we’ve talked about the pros and cons of Employee Assistance Programmes before. But what happens after you’ve signed on the dotted line? You’ll need a way to evaluate how effective an EAP’s mental health cover is for your team – and whether you’re getting the best value for money when it comes to boosting your employee wellbeing overall. 

It might be a good idea to think about what your objectives were when you agreed to implement your existing EAP. If you wanted a support system that would reduce absenteeism and boost performance at work, then those are fairly objective measurements, and your answers might be easy to find. Check on the number of sick days taken by your team, or take a look at the percentage of KPIs they’ve achieved. If you wanted your team to feel more engaged with their work, or just…happier, then you might need a more qualitative method. 

An employee wellbeing survey is a great tool to track the overall mood of your team. It’s useful to keep an eye on trends and to work out what impact any wellbeing initiatives have had. If you can compare your team’s wellbeing data before and after you got your EAP, then that should hold some clues to how effective it really is. (If you aren’t collecting this data yet, don’t panic! Find out how to create your own wellbeing survey today.)

Of course, you can also survey your team about your EAP specifically and see what they have to say. It’s well worth making the responses anonymous, to make sure everyone feels comfortable answering honestly.

📋 Some useful questions to ask might be:

  • Did you know that we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?
  • Do you know who our EAP provider is and what support they offer? 
  • Do you know how to access our EAP if you need support?
  • Have you ever called our EAP’s helpline?
  • Have you accessed any online resources from our EAP?
  • Have you accessed 1-1 therapy or counselling through our EAP? 
  • Have you been referred to any other services through our EAP?
  • How long did it take between contacting the EAP and getting a personalised response to your query?
  • How would you rate any interactions you’ve had with our EAP? On a scale of 1 (terrible) to 10 (brilliant). 

The answers to these questions should give you some insight into the impact your EAP is having, over and above the usage figure they’ll furnish you with. Typical usage stats will include anybody who has accessed a resource provided by your EAP after logging in. That includes reading self-help resources online, which you might decide doesn’t represent brilliant value for money in terms of mental health support.

If nobody knows who your EAP provider is or how to access help, then the service might also need more cheerleading from your internal teams. It’s not in an EAP’s interests to boost uptake of 1-1 counselling, because it’s expensive to deliver – so they usually leave that job up to you.

There are a few other things to think about when you’re comparing EAP services or renewing your contract. Here’s a handy checklist to evaluate your EAP:

🌎 Inclusivity

  • Is everyone in your company covered by your EAP? 
  • Can you extend full coverage to contractors, freelancers and part-time staff?
  • Will your EAP triage and treat people who have been diagnosed with previous mental health conditions? (You might find the answer to this in the smallprint.)
  • Does your EAP provide training for your team leaders to recognise and manage employees with mental health concerns? 

🚦 Accessibility

  • Is it easy to get help from your EAP? (How long does it take to get a response from them, and to book a counselling session?)
  • Is there a complicated login system or is it easy to use?
  • Has your team been able to access your EAP anonymously, or do they typically have to ask the People team for the contact details first? 

🗣 Therapy

  • How qualified are the counsellors or therapists available for 1-1 mental health support? Are they registered with an accredited body, like the BACP or the NCS?
  • Can your team request an appropriate therapist for their clinical needs or personal preferences?
  • Are there limits on the number of therapy sessions a single employee can have? 

📄 Contracts

  • Are you tied into your EAP contract? How long for? 
  • Will the contract terms (and price) flex to cover a growing or shrinking number of employees in your team? 

📈 Usage 

  • Does your EAP give you regular, accurate statistics about employee usage? 
  • How easy is it for you to find out usage statistics yourself?
  • Does your EAP share qualitative or quantitative feedback on how useful your employees have found the service?

And finally, proactivity. This is a biggie, not only because it helps to reduce personal suffering, but also because – according to a huge Deloitte study on the topic – proactive mental health support means employees take less time off and generates a better return on investment for companies. 

🧠 Proactivity

  • Does your EAP provide ways for your team to actively maintain and work on their mental health (not just react when there’s a problem)?


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You chose your EAP with care, but it’s just as important to check that it’s still delivering the support your team needs and expects. If not, it might be time to change providers, or consider an altogether different kind of mental health support system, like Spill. 

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