Magazine article The Journal of Employee Assistance

Completing the Business Case for EAPs: Research on EAP Organizational Services Shows They Save Money and Create Opportunities to Participate in Management Initiatives and Strategic Planning

Magazine article The Journal of Employee Assistance

Completing the Business Case for EAPs: Research on EAP Organizational Services Shows They Save Money and Create Opportunities to Participate in Management Initiatives and Strategic Planning

Article excerpt

Organizational services have long been a key part of employee assistance programs, yet they have often been overshadowed by a greater emphasis on clinical assessment and referral services for the individual employee. The time is now ripe for the EA field to rediscover the significant role that organizational services play in establishing the unique value of EAPs.

We argue that organizational services are an untapped resource for making the business case for EAPs. In this article, we offer a general conceptual model of the business case for EAPs, focus on the role of organizational services in this model, and review the available research evidence that supports the model. We also present a case study of how organizational services have positioned one EAP as critical to the success of the organization it serves.

WHY MAKE A BUSINESS CASE?

It is important for EAP providers to measure and report on their services and state how they contribute to the business goals and objectives of the program purchaser/sponsor. Whether the EAP is an internal program that needs to defend its budget or an external program that must show it returns more in savings than its services cost, it must speak the language of business and demonstrate that it delivers value and is worth the cost to the organization. This is especially true in today's slumping economy, when companies are even more prone to question if they are receiving a positive return on their investment in an EAP.

In a previous article, a general conceptual model was described that defined the business case for EAPs as having five levels of value (Attridge 2001). According to this model, EAPs should strive to document their value to the company through client-specific activity that (1) establishes the need for EAP services, (2) profiles the use of the EAP, (3) measures the outcomes from users of the program, (4) translates these outcomes into business dollar value, and (5) connects the EAP to the "big picture" of the organization's interest in managing risk and creating a healthy workforce.

More recently, this model has been extended to specify the major kinds of outcomes from EAP services (Attridge 2002). This approach groups business value into three major kinds of outcomes (Figure 1). The first outcomes area is health claims, the second is human capital, and the third is organizational.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

EAPs can help reduce overall medical health care claims, workers' compensation, and disability costs through the proper assessment and referral of high-risk employees to effective behavioral health and substance abuse programs. In the human capital area of costs, EAPs can help improve employee performance through reduced absenteeism, greater productivity, fewer accidents, and less turnover among troubled employees. These kinds of "hard dollar" savings in claims and human capital costs have been demonstrated in numerous studies (Attridge 2003; Blum and Roman 1995).

However, not all EAP activity is equally effective at producing claims and workplace cost savings; rather, the services that comprise the EAP Core Technology yield the most impact per EAP case (Attridge and Amaral 2002). For example, employees with mental health or substance abuse problems tend to have greater levels of work impairment and thus present greater opportunities for clinical improvement and the associated higher-level outcomes than do EAP clients with less severe clinical issues or those with educational or informational needs.

Both the claims and human capital outcome areas are derived largely from employees who use the EAP on an individual basis. In contrast, organizational outcomes, the third element of the value triad, derive most of their value from use of the program at the group level and from managerial consultation and risk management/prevention activities. We have identified four types of organizational services commonly provided by EAPs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.