The ability to measure Return on Investment (ROI) is seen to have great value within the EAP and Employee Health and Wellness industries. Employee Assistance providers are under increasing pressure to ensure that their programmes have sound evaluation components able to measure the impact of their services both in terms of the programme’s effectiveness and also in terms of yielding a return on investment for the organisation using the EAP.
There are numerous research studies that have proven that making an investment in an EAP translates into positive returns in terms of direct cost savings from reduced claims, as well as indirect business costs that are related to improving on poor performance and employee absence. There are also several research projects which have set out to prove that they do not. As yet, there are no universally applicable ROI tools available in the EAP field in South Africa. Most of the ROI tools presently in use are exclusive to particular EAP service providers, and therefore much of their logic and supporting data is based on small sample studies, with very few EAP providers or employers having been able to collect qualitative data beyond basic take-up and satisfaction surveys.
For individual employers: a critical issue when it comes to measuring ROI of EAPs is understanding the measures and evaluating processes used by their service provider for their programme. It is also important to have defined and know what performance targets were set for the EAP at the time when the service was commissioned. Furthermore, as each EAP offers different advantages for employers and individual employees, it is important to be aware of the way that a programme is structured and effective in way it is promoted as both of these will affect the return it yields.1
For EAP service providers operating in a digitally enabled marketplace: in the concluding remarks of their paper entitled, ‘A return on investment in employee assistance programmes: a theoretical underpinning’, Dr Anneline Keet and Professor Lourie Terblance bear testimony to how technology has made the accurate measurement of the ROI of EAPs way more feasible: ‘The software development capabilities available to EAP providers already allow them to design their tools to be user-friendly, to assess pre- and post-intervention behavioural indicators, identify all agreed-upon performance indicators and translate these into monetary values for the organisation. These measures can be complemented by qualitative strategies that create a deeper understanding of phenomena and provide answers for the industry and the discipline as to those actions that yield the most value to individuals and their organisations.’
Interestingly, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) in the United Kingdom has funded the development of an open-access calculator which provides return of investment (ROI) figures for EAPs – independently developed by Professor Stephen Bevan of the Institute of Employment Studies and launched in September 2018. The algorithm used by the calculator takes into consideration employee head count, absenteeism and productivity levels, all which can be factored into an organisation’s EAP. The tool asks a few brief questions about the organisation, the EAP contract in use or under consideration and its level of usage. It then calculates the level of return per pound that the organisation will spend. It also details the assumptions that went into the calculation and research behind the tool’s development. 2+3