Study Highlights Benefits of Using Local Employee Assistance Program Providers

For almost 40 years, Southwest EAP has been providing employee assistance program services for businesses in Little Rock and Arkansas.  While our clients are convinced of the value of our services, companies that do not currently provide EAP services for their employees often want to quantify the ROI they can expect to realize from offering EAP services.  Though many of them can easily see the theoretical benefits of EAPs, they want to know what effect EAP services will have on their bottom line – what their costs will be versus their benefits.


Chestnut Global Partners’ Division of Commercial Science, in collaboration with The Workplace Collaborative, a trade association of 14 regional EAP providers founded in 1994, recently conducted a study that offers up some concrete numbers for businesses who may have been hesitant to take the plunge into offering EAP services.  The study involved 1,788 employees of companies using the services of 9 regional EAP providers, all of whom belong to the Workplace Collaborative.  Southwest EAP was one of the EAP providers who participated in the study.


Employee participants in the study were those who sought access to EAP services during the study period, who agreed to fill out a survey at intake and a follow-up survey to be administered later.  All of the regional EAP providers collected data using the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) 5-item measure, developed by Chestnut Global Partners. The study, “Workplace Outcomes Among Local/Regional Employee Assistance Providers: A Study of Effectiveness,” consisted of 5 questions on topics broadly impacting workplace performance, and asked employees to reflect on the impact the issue for which they sought EAP services had on their performance & satisfaction over the previous 30 days:


  • Absenteeism - how many hours of work had the employee missed over the last month due to the issue for which they were seeking EAP services.
  • Presenteeism - how much was the employee distracted by the issue while at work, rated on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
  • Work Engagement - how eager was the employee to get to work / do their work, rated on the same 1 - 5 scale.
  • General satisfaction with life - rated on the same 1 - 5 scale.
  • Workplace distress - how much did the employee dread going to the workplace, on a 1 - 5 scale.

Study participants took the same survey again 90 days following EAP intake, and the results of the pre-tests & post-tests were compiled and averaged for comparison:

Study participants showed marked improvement in all areas, most significantly in the reduction of absenteeism and presenteeism (or distraction from work) and increase in overall life satisfaction, suggesting that EAP services provide sizeable benefits to both employees and the businesses that employ them.  Also, these benefits do not seem to be short-term in nature; the lengthy 90-day interval between pre- and post-tests indicate that access to EAP services had lasting benefits for both employers and employees.


Overall, the study shows that the use of a local/regional EAP provider can significantly improve employees’ productivity and employers’ costs of turnover, as well as improve overall employee satisfaction.  The Society for Human Resource Management has estimated that employee turnover costs are, at least, $3,500 for a minimum wage employee; other estimates range from 30 – 50% of annual salary to replace an entry level worker, to 150% annual salary to replace a mid-level employee, to 400% annual salary to replace a high-level employee.  Taking these estimates into consideration, it’s clear that anything that helps improve employee morale and lower employee turnover represents the potential for large savings. 


As significant as the overall study’s results were, Southwest EAP’s results were even more impressive:

WOS Study Table 2

Study participants who accessed Southwest EAP’s services showed a more marked improvement in all study parameters.  In the case of absenteeism, Southwest EAP’s clients’ improvement was nearly 2-1/2 times that of the overall study; life satisfaction and work engagement improvement was slightly over double the result in the overall study, and reduction of workplace distress was nearly 3 times greater than in the overall study. 


While the overall study indicates that local/regional EAPs are a better solution than outsourced/call center based EAPs - because the local touch and connection produces more consistent and effective results – Southwest EAP’s results show the importance of being attuned to and in step with the needs of local businesses and employees.  This goes beyond being nearby and on the ground to deal with crisis situations, such as a traumatic event in the workplace, though of course that is one very large benefit of working with a local EAP provider.  It ties in to the amount of direct engagement a local provider has with client businesses as well as being naturally attuned to what’s going on in with regard to employment norms in the local area, the culture, and local custom, as a result of living in the area.  People generally feel more comfortable discussing their problems with someone who is like them in at least one way or another; speaking with a local counselor creates at least one commonality – a shared experience of living in the same area and all that goes with it.


The other advantage of working with a local EAP provider like Southwest EAP is access to additional services such as organizational training and development and management consultation/coaching, services which support the success of the entire company and can have a big impact on the effectiveness of EAP services.  These services are typically not offered by large, national 800-number EAP providers; where they are, the distances between client and EAP provider typically make these important additional services prohibitively expensive, since travel costs have to be factored in to all trainings and in-person consultations.


In summary, providing an employee assistance program as a component of your benefits plan can have a significant impact on workforce turnover and employee productivity and satisfaction – particularly if your company uses the services of a local EAP provider.  The study results above offer a rough idea of the savings an EAP can provide to your business.  If you are experiencing high employee turnover and you know why employees are leaving thanks to exit interviews or other means, Southwest EAP can lower your turnover rate with interventions through EAP or other organizational services.  If you’re experiencing a high turnover and you don’t know why, you need us even more – we can find out the why and help you turn things around.

Categories:EAP Effectiveness

Tags:EAP, Productivity, EAP Results

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