With 10x more usage than an EAP, Spill might be the exact solution you were looking for.
The market for employee health and wellbeing services is full of options: around the world, there are over 839 EAP providers. If you’re thinking about changing your EAP provider or introducing one into your company, we won’t blame you for feeling somewhat overwhelmed. The good news is, we’ve done the hard work for you: here’s our lowdown of the best Employee Assistance Programmes in the UK.
Top EAP providers in the UK: a (long) list
We’re diving straight in with a (long) list of the best EAP services in the UK. As there are so many, we turned to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association UK (EAPA UK) to help get us started. A not-for-profit, the EAPA is the world’s largest membership organisation for employee assistance professionals, supporting the EAP industry and continuously developing its practices. UK EAP providers and employee assistance services can apply for different tiers of membership depending on the support they offer.
Registered EAP providers
Registered EAP EAPA providers, or ‘Accredited’ providers, are organisations that have met the criteria relating to EAPA standards, professional practice and delivery:
- AXA Health
- Bupa Wellbeing
- Care First
- Health Assured
- TELUS Health (LifeWorks)
- MCL Medics
- Optima Health
- PAM Wellbeing
- The Employee Resilience Company Ltd (delivered through Vivup)
- Validium Group part of HealthHero
- Vita Health Group
- Workplace Options
- Wellbeing Solutions
Non-registered EAP providers
Non-registered EAP providers, or ‘Non-accredited’ providers are working towards Accredited Provider membership:
- Atrium Clinic
- Education Support Partnership
- Mind Matters
- Retail Trust
Other organisations that provide EAP services
Some organisations, such as health insurance providers and employee benefits packages, include EAP services along with their core offering — or give customers the option to add one on for an extra fee. If you’re already paying for one of these services, or if it might be easier to get budget secured for a wider company offering, here are a few extra options for you to look into:
- Healix (health insurance)
- Perkbox (employee perks)
- YuLife (life insurance)
- Vitality (health insurance)
- Virgin Pulse
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it hopefully serves as a useful starting point when beginning your research into the best EAP provider for your business.
Download our free EAP evaluation checklist
How to choose the best EAP for your business
It’s all very well being presented with a list of companies but the hard part is figuring out which one is right for your organisation. We’ve delved into the art of evaluating EAP services elsewhere but if you’re keen to get started, there’s a few important things to consider when choosing an EAP.
In the majority of cases you’ll have to speak to someone at the EAP to get pricing information, so use this opportunity to grill them about their product!
Questions to ask when choosing an EAP
“What services do you offer?”
The crux of an EAP is to offer support to employees who need it, but it's important to know exactly what’s on offer. Most EAP providers offer advice and counselling for life-related issues such as work, finances, family, and health, but the specifics can vary. So, ask for a detailed breakdown and find out if there are any limitations on how much help an individual can get: for example, is there a cap on the number of phone calls someone can make to the helpline or the number of therapy sessions they can benefit from?
“How long does it take to get support?”
While a 24/7 helpline is commonplace amongst providers, this doesn’t necessarily mean someone gets support straightaway. Find out how long your employees will need to wait for their first appointment after initial contact and ask how many people actually get counselling: in general, it's thought that 60% of people who call their EAP provider end up being signposted to self-help resources rather than actual counselling.
“What’s the usage like for your EAP?”
You want to provide your employees with a service that will actually benefit them. So, ask the company representative outright what the average uptake is of their EAP in other companies. Keep in mind that making use of an EAP doesn’t necessarily mean receiving counselling. Find out how they determine usage and ask for a breakdown of use for the different services they provide.
“How would my team access the EAP?”
EAPs are meant to make mental health support easy to access, so you’ll want to find out how easy it is to access the service you’re considering:
- Is it telephone only (which many people may feel uncomfortable with)?
- Can people get help via an online portal or mobile app?
- Can employees message a professional or is it only possible to chat to them?
- What form does counselling take — in-person (and if so, where would this take place), or via telephone or video call?
“Who can use the EAP?”
It's a given that all employees in the company get access to the EAP, but find out if this support extends to others. Some providers include immediate family or dependents in their cover, meaning anyone in the employee’s family can use the EAP for support.
“What’s the payment plan?”
As well as pricing, make sure you clarify the payment structure for the EAP — is it a monthly or annual subscription, or will you be entering into a contract for a specified amount of time? Is it possible to exit your contract early or change the level of cover (if possible) if it turns out uptake isn’t as you hoped? Remember as well to check if there are additional fees for certain services.
“What kind of support do you offer businesses?”
Choosing an EAP is just the first step. As well as implementing it in the company, you’ll need to show people how to use it, promote it, and keep track of its usage and effect. Find out if the service comes with an account manager (or similar) to help you and what the troubleshooting process looks like in the event of a problem.
“Do you have specific requirements for counsellors who work for you?”
Make sure you’re giving your team a quality service by finding out about the qualifications and experience required for counsellors and other EAP professionals:
- Are they accredited or members of recognised associations, like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), or Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)?
- How many hours of training and clinical practice must they have?
- Is it possible to request a therapist with a particular specialism?
- Do you offer counselling and support in multiple languages?
Lastly, don’t just take their word for it. Remember, while every EAP provider has a good intention, they are a business. And to be a successful business, they need to make money. Once you’ve chatted to a company representative, consider reaching out to a company that uses them to get an authentic insight into what the provider is really like.
Spill gives you everything you need to support your team's mental health.
Four of the best EAP providers (according to Spill)
We’ll be honest here: there are multiple interpretations for what ‘best EAP provider’ means. There is no ‘perfect’ EAP provider that will suit every company: it all depends on the services your employees will need, use, and benefit from.
But, it can be helpful to have an overview of the top EAP providers and that’s where this list comes in!
When it comes to evaluating EAPs, we’ve come up with 10 criteria that we think make an EAP valuable. We then grouped these criteria into four categories and chose a winner for each one.
🏆 Best EAP for being easy to use: LifeWorks (TELUS Health)
Offering a mobile app and online platform, LifeWorks has focused on making their EAP services easy to use by everyone: important for a diverse team. Support is available 24/7 and can be accessed via phone, online, or the app. Subsequent sessions such as counselling can take place virtually or in person, and coverage extends to your employees’ immediate family, too.
Support is available from LifeWorks in multiple languages, although you will have to contact them to find out the exact languages this includes. Their online resources can be used by individuals with visual, hearing, or motor disabilities as a result of features like keyboard navigation, screen reader support, and high contrast settings.
One point that lets the side down for LifeWorks is its speed of support: its website suggests it takes five business days to get an appointment after initial contact. It does, however, suggest appointments are available within 24 hours for urgent cases, and is one of the few providers that openly communicates the time to a first appointment. Another thing to watch out for is LifeWorks reviews, which seem to be generally quite negative.
🏆 Best EAP for providing lots of different services: AXA Health
This was a tough one as the best EAP in terms of services provided depends on the specific needs of each organisation and its employees. AXA Health, however, offers a range of services as well as optional add-ons.
Offering EAP services alongside its core business health insurance, AXA Health has a 24/7 support line to provide help in areas such as:
- Work-related issues
- Life management
- Financial and legal concerns
- Housing worries
- Relationship and family matters
- Health and safety concerns
- Mental health support
There’s no limit to the number of times someone can call and an online portal gives access to self-help articles and resources. Employees can get up to five counselling sessions each and these can take place over the phone, via virtual call, or in person (although the latter is only available on their premier tier). Longer-term counselling and critical incident management are available as add-ons.
🏆 Best EAP for having high quality therapists: Health Assured
EAPs are there to support your team through challenging times. So, it’s important that their professionals are qualified, experienced, and ethical: especially when it comes to counselling. Health Assured is one of the biggest EAP providers in the UK and has a network of over 5,000 qualified counsellors and mental health professionals.
As part of their offering, Health Assured can provide both short-term counselling as well as trauma-specific interventions. But perhaps most importantly, is their requirement criteria for their counsellors, who should:
- Have three years of post-qualification experience
- Have 250 hours of training
- Have 250 hours of counselling practice
- Have 40 hours of private client contact time
- Be registered with counselling bodies like the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), or Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)
🏆 Best EAP for letting you see usage data: Workplace Options
As well as support for employees, Workplace Options provides detailed data to its companies, including reports on employee usage, satisfaction, and trends. This data can help you identify areas where employees may need additional support, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of the programme. Remember, getting an EAP isn’t a box-ticking exercise: the service is there to help your employees get professional support whenever they need it and if it's not working properly, your employees will be left struggling.
🏆 Best alternative to an EAP: Spill
Of course, EAPs aren’t the only employee wellbeing benefit out there. There are a growing number of companies offering alternative support for your team that do just as good a job of caring for your team. These companies tend to focus on delivering one type of support and do it really well.
Here at Spill, we offer mental health support to your entire team. And looking at our ten categories for a good EAP, ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to supporting employee wellbeing.
🧠 People can access a range of different types of services
Yes, Spill may ‘only’ offer therapy but your employees can choose from therapists with over 50 different specialisms.
⏰ People can book sessions quickly
Spill therapy sessions are available seven days a week and In just a few clicks, your employees can book a session as soon as the next day.
🌍 People can do sessions in multiple languages and time zones
Your team can benefit from therapy sessions in over 10 different languages and whilst our therapists are based in the UK, your team can book sessions to fit your timezone. We don’t have 100% coverage (yet!) but our therapists provide availability from as early as 7am GMT to as late as 9.30pm GMT.
🤫 People can do counselling with full confidence that it’s 100% confidential
At Spill, Video therapy sessions are end-to-end encrypted and all messages to and from therapists are fully secure: they can only be unlocked and viewed by the user receiving them.
🏆 People can talk to highly qualified professionals
Spill therapists are all fully qualified, registered with the BACP or National Counselling Society (NCS), and have a minimum of 200 clinical hours. In fact, only 5% of counsellor applicants make it through our five-stage hiring process.
👍 People can get support easily
Depending on which Spill plan you’re on, your team will either receive direct therapy booking links or can access the Spill platform via Slack or Microsoft Teams: simple!
💙 You can partner with a company that’s known and loved by others
🤝 You can get tailored support for your unique team
Start with a few people or support the whole team: it's up to you how to bring Spill into your company.
👀 You can see usage data whenever you like
Get meaningful (anonymous) insights into your team’s mental health and usage of Spill.
💰 You pay a reasonable price for what you get
Pay for just the therapy sessions you use or cover everyone with a price per employee on a rolling monthly contract: you can choose between the Starter Plan and the Team Plan.
The best EAP provider is the one that’s right for your team
Introducing an EAP into your company is a great move but for it to be successful, it's vital you choose a provider that’s the right fit for your team. It’s all very well choosing the most expensive or expansive service, but if it doesn’t provide your team with the exact support they need, then it will go unused…and the people that need support will go without.
Take the time to carefully research different providers, make yourself aware of any hidden costs, and think about the kind of support your team needs: after all, it might be that the support you really need isn’t a traditional EAP at all.
Get our free EAP evaluation checklist
Spill is typically used by 50% of employees in a year. That means up to 10 times as many people get support vs. an EAP.