Employee Benefits

EAP offerings: a look at public v.s. private companies

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) continue to gain more widespread popularity since the onset of the pandemic, particularly in the private sector. A 2022 article by Dr. Mark Attridge, a well respected researcher, author and benefit consultant makes a solid case for the economic return on investment for employers to invest in EAP benefits for their workers. For every dollar invested an organization can expect an average of $5:1 ROI according to a case study.1 Several factors influence the formula for calculating the ROI including company size and employee utilization patterns.

The public sector is almost twice as likely to invest in EAP services for small companies (1-49 employees). This is due to the thinner profit margins for small businesses v.s. public sector workplaces. A growing body of literature supports the claim that EAP utilization is increasing and has doubled since the onset of the pandemic. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a shortage of clinicians is the biggest barrier to further increasing utilization. Weekly, I am asked to take on clients from EAP’s, colleagues or friends. 

Organizations should take a good look at their benefits including counseling EAP services to determine if the service they are contracting for is properly utilized and producing tangible outcomes. Almost half or EAP providers are not measuring/documenting outcomes. As a Clinician I was never a fan of extra paperwork, routine assessment measures or reporting to third parties. Trends in the behavioral health space are increasingly pointing to the value of “Measurement Based Care” as the gold standard of behavioral health care. Employers should be asking EAP providers to demonstrate the efficacy of their work, particularly as we see contractual rates for counseling services increase in the coming years.

  1. Attridge M. (2022). The facts don’t lie: Statistical truths about thebusiness value of EAPs. Journal of Employee Assistance, 52(2),26-28