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EAP counseling significantly improves employee wellbeing, ability to concentrate and productivity

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Corporate / Employee Assistance Programs / Mental Health / United States

EAP counseling significantly improves employee wellbeing, ability to concentrate and productivity

Study confirms EAP counseling provides return on investment for employers by restoring lost productive work time from employee presenteeism and absenteeism

CHICAGO, September 17, 2020 – Morneau Shepell – a leading global provider of total wellbeing, mental health, digital mental health services and one of the largest U.S. employee assistance program (EAP) providers – and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), today announced the publication of the 2020 Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) Annual Reports. The results identified work presenteeism as the number one employee issue, both in terms of its negative impact on the workforce, and the extent of improvement after EAP counseling. This issue also translated into the greatest source of cost savings and ROI.

"The results of the 2020 Workplace Outcome Suite confirm that short-term counseling offered through EAPs work very well for employees and employers alike," said Barb Veder, vice president, global clinical services, research lead and chief clinician, Morneau Shepell. "At a time when employees need convenient and effective support for work and life issues, employers looking for a cost-effective way to both provide this benefit while countering presenteeism and absenteeism should strongly consider an EAP."

Findings show EAP counseling helps concentration, productivity and more
After comparing WOS measures at the start of EAP counseling and about three months after counseling ended, the study found:  

  • 56 percent reported that their issue was making it difficult to concentrate on work. After counseling, this was reduced to 28 percent of all cases.
  • 37 percent reported dissatisfaction with life overall, indicating a level of clinical distress. After counseling, the rate was reduced to 16 percent of all cases.
  • 32 percent reported not being engaged in their work. After counseling, the rate of all cases was reduced to 23 percent.
  • 29 percent missed a half day or more of work time. After counseling, this was reduced to just 13 percent of all cases.
  • 22 percent reported feelings of dread when going to the workplace (“workplace distress”). After counseling, this rate was reduced to 13 percent of all cases.

EAP counseling provides positive return on investment (ROI) for employers
The estimated ROI ranged from 3:1 for small size employers, 5:1 for medium size employer and to 9:1 for large size employers in the United States. The results also found cost savings ranging from about $2,000 to $3,500 per employee from reductions in work presenteeism (87 percent of total return) and absenteeism (13 percent). A break-even 1:1 ROI was possible even at a very low utilization level of just one EAP counseling case per every 100 covered employees.

The findings were generally consistent across client age and sex, region, industry, clinical issue, number of counseling sessions, length of treatment, whether the EAP was provided by an external vendor, internal staff, or a hybrid model.

“EAPA has endorsed and promoted the WOS as a best practice for measuring and evaluating work-related outcomes of employee assistance programs,” said Greg DeLapp, chief executive officer, EAPA. “The WOS offers a standardized approach for the entire industry to use as a way to document the effectiveness and business value of EAP services. We encourage the companies that purchase EAPs and brokers who sell EAP services to support this tool and use it as a way of demonstrating the importance and value of EAP services to their clients."

The study sample included 35,693 employees with self-reported data collected over a period of 10 years, between 2010 and 2019. A total of 38 different sources provided valid data on all five WOS measures: 20 EAP vendors, 17 employer-based programs and one industry group of external vendors in the United States. Although 26 different countries are represented, 97 percent of the total cases were from three countries: The United States (72 percent), China (22 percent), and New Zealand (3 percent). This report has 11,330 more cases than the last report published in 2019. 

See the 2020 Workplace Outcome Suite Report 1 and Report 2.

Information about using and licensing the WOS is available on the LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell website.

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is the leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee wellbeing through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. For more information, visit

About EAPA
The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the world’s largest, oldest, and most respected membership organization for employee assistance professionals. With members in over 40 countries around the globe, EAPA is the world’s most relied upon source of information and support for and about the employee assistance profession. EAPA publishes the Journal of Employee Assistance, hosts the annual EAP Conference and EXPO, and offers training and other resources to fulfill its mission. EAPA’s mission is to promote the highest standards of EA practice and the continuing development of employee assistance professionals, programs and services. For more information, visit


Heather MacDonald
Morneau Shepell