Statistics show a huge variance in the levels of engagement between ‘lite’ affinity EAPs and those that are offered as a standalone policy, according to Jelf Employee Benefits. Utilisation* figures will vary across different industries as they are very much dependent on the employer’s demographic and the organisation’s internal promotion methods – the EAPA quotes the average usage of an EAP as 10 per cent – but Jelf has clients with more than triple that take-up. Affinity EAP utilisation rates can be as low as 1-2 per cent.
Jelf Employee Benefits believes the levels of utilisation are less about the specific policy details and more about whether an organisation really understands what is included in the policy and whether that has been communicated well to staff.
Chris Cannon, business development manager, healthcare, Jelf Employee Benefits said: “There is an obvious correlation between organisations that pay for a standalone EAP and utilisation rates, as common sense says that if you pay for something you are more likely to value it and promote it. However EAPs that are add-ons to other policies such as PMI, group risk or cash plans, should not be overlooked as value can also be extracted and the cover can be essentially at no cost.”
In recent research**, Jelf found that 58% of companies believe they could be better at communicating help available to manage stress – one of the core components within an EAP. Jelf Employee Benefits highlights some areas that employers should seek to understand themselves and communicate to employees:
- Is your policy standalone or an affinity product – if you are paying extra for it, ensure employees understand that your offering goes beyond a basic solution.
- If you offer an affinity product, does it cover all employees or just those covered by the insurance product? Don’t let this stop you communicating to relevant groups.
- If you don’t currently have an EAP then carefully compare the more comprehensive plans against affinity products – the standalone policy will deliver more in terms of unlimited phone calls and face-to-face support, plus specialist specifics such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
- Consider what sort of management reporting you require – standalone policies offer a far more robust reporting package than affinity policies.
Cannon concluded: “Employers needs to take care when considering a vehicle for providing access to support in stressful situations but separate to that is the need to communicate it effectively – no matter which type of product is selected. Without communication, an EAP is of very little value to anyone – either the employer or employee.
“An EAP, which in essence focuses on prevention, can really provide a financial benefit for the employer as it will help reduce absenteeism and reduce the risk of significant claims and therefore rises in wider insurance premiums in the longer term. However, just having the details written down in a company handbook will not maximise utilisation rates, and therefore it can be viewed as either ineffective or without significant impact on the bottom line of the company. Forward-thinking employers who address this and communicate the benefits are not only helping to address their duty of care towards employees but through greater take-up, they will also see tangible business benefits.”
*EAPA “Employee Assistance Programmes 2013 Market Watch” Report. Usage is calculated as follows; ‘Number of calls’ plus ‘Number of online hits’ divided by ‘Population’
**Research conducted among 124 companies by Jelf Employee Benefits in October 2016
|Q4: Do you believe your line-managers and employees are aware of the help already available to manage stress?|
|Partially – communications could be better||58.62%||68|