The Effect of Employee Assistance Services on Reductions in Employee Absenteeism
- 638 Downloads
Personal and work-related stressors experienced by employees can result in substantial costs to employers in the form of employee absenteeism. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide an important vehicle to assist employees with behavioral health issues, personal concerns, and work-related problems that impact employee absenteeism. This study tested the impact of EAPs on reducing employee absenteeism utilizing a well-matched control group and human resource timecard data. The study recruited employees from 20 areas of state government and used a prospective, quasi-experimental design with propensity score matching. EAP (n = 145) users were matched to non-EAP (n = 145) users on baseline demographic, psychosocial, and work-related characteristics that differentiate the groups. Hours of sick time recorded were provided by human resource offices. Differences in sick leave usage were tested using mixed model repeated measures. A steeper decline in sick leave usage for EAP than non-EAP employees was found, with estimates of 4.8 to 6.5% fewer hours lost per month to illness. Further analysis found that EAP services were most effective in helping clients move from moderate to low levels of sick leave rather than in reducing sick leave for those experiencing chronic absenteeism. Research on the effectiveness of EAPs rarely utilizes well-matched control groups and frequently relies on self-reported outcomes. Using an objective measure of work time lost, this study provides empirical evidence that users of EAP services tend to reduce their absenteeism at a faster pace than non-EAP users experiencing similar challenges to maintaining productivity.
KeywordsEmployee assistance programs Absenteeism Stress Well-being Work life issues
We thank Anthony Molieri for his support with data management. We also thank Paul Roman and Ron Manderscheid for their critical reviews and input on manuscript contents.
This study was funded by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation.
- Ames, G. M., & Bennett, J. B. (2011). Prevention interventions of alcohol problems in the workplace: A review and guiding framework. Alcohol Research & Health, 34(2), 175–179 Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh342/175-187.htm.Google Scholar
- Attridge, M. (2013, September). Workplace behavioral health and EAP services: Best practices and future trends. Presented at the American Psychological Association’s Work & Well-Being Conference, San Francisco, CO. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10713/3690
- Attridge, M., Amaral, T., Bjornson, T., Goplerud, E., Herlihy, P., McPherson, T., … Teems, L. (2009). EAP effectiveness and ROI. EASNA Research Notes, 1(3), http://easna.org.
- Avis, P. (2016). CBT: Not the only solution to stress. Occupational Health, 68(1), 23.Google Scholar
- Barthold, R.O. & Ford, J.L. (2012, February 29). Paid sick leave: Prevalence, provision, and usage among full-time workers in private industry. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/paid-sick-leave-prevalence-provision-and-usage-among-full-time-workers-in-private-industry.pdf. Accessed 18 Nov 2015.
- Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Doyle, W. J., Miller, G. E., Frank, E., Rabin, B. S., & Turner, R. B. (2012). Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(16), 5995–5999. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118355109.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Definitions of an employee assistance program (EAP) and EAP core technology. (2011). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://www.eapassn.org/About/About-Employee-Assistance/EAP-Definitions-and-Core-Technology.
- Employee Assistance Society of North America. (2009). Selecting and strengthening employee assistance programs: A purchaser’s guide. Arlington, VA. Retrieved from http://www.easna.org/publications-research-notes/
- Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., Dunkel-Schetter, C., DeLongis, A., & Gruen, R. J. (1986). Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(5), 992–1003. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Goetzel, R. Z., Ozminkowski, R. J., Sederer, L. I., & Mark, T. L. (2002). The business case for quality mental health services: Why employers should care about the mental health and well-being of their employees. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 44(4), 320–330. https://doi.org/10.1097/00043764-200204000-00012.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Harwood, H. J., & Reichman, M. B. (2000). The cost to employers of employee alcohol abuse: A review of the literature in the United States of America. Bulletin on Narcotics, LII(1–2). Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_2000-01-01_1_page005.html
- Langlieb, A. M., & Kahn, J. P. (2005). How much does quality mental health care profit employers? Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 47(11), 1099–1109. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.jom.0000177124.60460.25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Mayfield, M. (2011, May 25). Health, wellness, and employee assistance: A holistic approach to employee benefits. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/health-wellness-and-employee-assistance-a-holistic-approach-to-employee-benefits.pdf.
- Quinley, K. (2003). EAPs: A benefit than can trim your disability and absenteeism costs. Compensation & Benefits Report., 17, 6–8.Google Scholar
- Saunders, J. B., Aasland, O. G., Babor, T. F., De La Fuente, J. R., & Grant, M. (1993). Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): WHO collaborative project on early detection of persons with harmful alcohol consumption—II. Addiction, 88, 791–804. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.1993.tb02093.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Society for Human Resource Management. (2013). 2013 employee benefits: An overview of employee benefits offerings in the U.S. Alexandria, VA. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Documents/13-0245 2013_EmpBenefits_FNL.pdf.
- Spetch, A., Howland, A., & Lowman, R. L. (2011). EAP utilization patterns and employee absenteeism: Results of an empirical, 3-year longitudinal study in a national Canadian retail corporation. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 63(2), 110–128. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009). Access to wellness and employee assistance programs in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/access-to-wellness-and-employee-assistance-programs-in-the-united-states.pdf.
- Witters, D., & Liu, D. (2013). In U.S., poor health tied to big losses for all job types. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/162344/poor-health-tied-big-losses-job-types.aspx.