Future trends in EAP: highlights from an industry survey.

Author:Attridge, Mark
Position:Feature article - Company overview

"... the organizations we work with are eager for services that are more proactive and preventative (addressing the entire population) and also more strategic in nature ..."

In the fall of 2011, the authors of this article conducted a survey to examine trends in the services and strategies offered by employee assistance programs (EAPs). This article features some of the key findings from this research, which was presented at the National Behavioral Consortium. For more details about this study, see the EASNA Research Note (October 2011, Volume 2, Number 3), available at www.easna.org/ publications-research-notes.

About the Study

Survey data was collected via a secure website from 150 EA professionals in the U.S. and Canada. Most were in senior management or clinical leadership roles. Respondents were associated with the EAP field in a variety of roles, including working for external vendors of EA services (51%); working for internal programs (23%); an individual provider of clinical services (11%); consultant or academic (5%); or "other" (9%). The following seven services were included:

* Counseling with assessment, brief clinical support, and referral;

* Management consultations and organizational support;

* Critical incident response;

* Integration of EAP with work/ life and wellness;

* High-risk case finding and long-term case management;

* Support for employees on STD/LTD disability leave; and

* Technology and web-enabled services.

These services were rated on three issues: (a) estimated frequency of use by organizational clients; (b) importance in defining EAP; and (c) business value. The potential for providing more strategic consulting by EAPs at the organizational level was also examined with a qualitative question.

Part I--A Profile of EA Services

The findings for each question for the seven services (listed above) are presented in Table 1 on page 25. Results of various statistical factor analyses of this data consistently revealed three general clusters of different types of EAP services: 1) Core EAP services; 2) "Pareto" EAP services; and 3) Connecting EAP services. Each cluster is described in greater detail below.

* Cluster 1: EAP Core Capabilities--"The Big 3." This set includes counseling and referral for individual employees, manager consultations and organizational support, and critical incident response. These three services had the highest ratings of importance in defining EAP (average of 84% of the sample rating it of high importance). Each of these services also has a proud history as a key component of the original core technology of EAR Brief counseling and referral for individual employees was characterized by high use and stable business value. Management consultations and support to organizations was characterized by mostly moderate use and stable to rising business value. Critical incident response was characterized by mostly moderate use and rated as stable to rising in business value.

Cluster 2: "Pareto" Cases with High-Touch EAP Services. This set of...

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