Nearly half the UK working population is supported by an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), including 92% of the top 25 best companies to work for, according to the EAP Association (EAPA) [1]. While the levels of satisfaction appear to be high for those using the schemes – with the EAPA claiming 95% service satisfaction form a survey of its members, there is a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ at scheme level, with only six of 20 leading product provider propsitions offering an EAP in the first place.

Of those that do have an EAP in place, most of their offerings were fairly comprehensive; unanimously offering support to workers across a number of lifestyle aspects, ranging across financial and legal issues, to child care, looking after the elderly or future planning, offering debt support, retirement planning and relationship advice.

The plan providers running EAPs are Aviva, across its Designer and My Money plans, as well as the My Money Master Trust, the Mercer Master Trust (Aviva) proposition, and both propositions from Standard Life, its mainstream Group Flexible Retirement Plan and the DC Master Trust.

All six also offer support to staff members on several health and lifestyle areas, including for those wanting to quit or cut down smoking, stress management, weight management and sleep hygiene.

Four of the six providers operating an EAP included access to specialist counselling: the three plans by Aviva and the Mercer Master Trust managed for Aviva. In all cases, these counselling services were available on a 24/7 basis. Standard Life does not offer specialist counselling access through either of its schemes.

Aviva confirmed its access was only available face to face, rather than via live chat or email.

Aviva and Mercer also confirmed they offered one-on-one counselling, with Aviva also running this option on a face-to-face basis.

However, it is worth noting that the results of the Benefits Guru survey did not take into account special dispensation for lockdown due to Covid-19, which might have had an impact on the extent to which face-to-face services might have been able to continue.

None of the providers offered access to group counselling.

With regard to the level of personalised content available to members, all providers offered articles, videos, app-based content and online portals. Only Standard Life, through its primary scheme and its Master Trust, offered podcasts or sent out push notifications.

Conversely, the others providers – the three schemes by Aviva and Mercer’s Master Trust arrangement for Aviva – also made content available through wearable devices.