Increase in use of employee assistance programmes

A larger percentage of the workforce is accessing employee assistance programmes (EAPs) than they were four years ago, according to consultancy Right Management.

The firm’s “Clinical director report” has calculated that in the past year 30,000 employees accessed its EAP service for help, up from 4.36% to 5.37%.

Kevin Friery, Right Management clinical director, said: “The economic changes of the last two or three years have created instability, uncertainty and insecurity; at the same time, employers need to achieve a high level of performance, productivity and engagement and with a need to deliver more with less.

“The more effective way of addressing this is to build resilience, support wellness initiatives and promote alignment and engagement amongst employees.”

Approximately 85% of the primary sources of callers’ difficulties lay outside the workplace, whereas service users identified 15% of their problems as being caused by work-related issues.

The most common issues were anxiety/stress, depression, interpersonal/relationship and self-esteem, said the report.

Friery added: “Given that the average duration of sickness absence for stress-related problems currently stands at 30.6 days, workplace counselling that prevents longer employee absence, or, even better, provides an intervention before absence, will make a material difference that benefits the employer.”

Of the 300 clients sampled, 50% were public sector employees and 50% were from private sector organisations.

“There is no evidence to substantiate the claim that public sector employees are more needy of help than their private sector counterparts,” said Friery.

“The differences that are experienced can be attributed solely to population size; larger employers are more likely to encounter staff that need help.

“This has implications for HR and line managers in larger organisations.”

XpertHR takes an in-depth look at employee assistance programmes and why they have increased in popularity.

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