the Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have become increasingly popular with employers and employees alike, with half the UK working population having access to one according to the EAP Association. However, less than half of workplace pension providers currently offer an EAP as part of their proposition.

Our latest insight looks at what EAPs are on offer from workplace pension providers and what they cover.

EAPs have come into the own during the Coronavirus pandemic, with more workers relying on them than ever. The winter lockdown of 2021 led to 19% of employed adults experiencing some form of depression, according figures from the Office for National Statistics.

As the lockdowns have eased, the pressure on EAPs has not slackened. Figures from Towergate Health & Protection’s EAP showed a 145% surge in the number of counselling calls in March 2021 compared with the previous year and the start of lockdown.

But why is this a priority for employers? Staff absences and distracted workers make for a less efficient business and more mistakes being made. Research by Westfield Health estimates the cost of employee absence alone in the UK spiked by £1.3bn in 2020, taking the total cost for the year up to £14bn.

Despite the popularity of EAPs with employers, less than a third (30%) of workplace pension providers offer an EAP. The providers whose propositions include an EAP are Aviva Designer, Aviva My Money, Aviva My Money Master Trust, Mercer Master Trust (Aviva), Standard Life and Standard Life DC Master Trust. These are the same providers who were offering an EAP a year ago (althoiugh it should be noted that the Aviva EAP is available at additional discounted rate charge)

All workplace pension provider EAPs support members with financial issues, legal issues, childcare, elderly care, future planning, debt support, retirement planning and relationship advice.

They all also offer advice and support to help their member stay healthy and motivated in areas such as on quitting smoking, stress management, weight management and better sleep.

All workplace pension provider EAPs also offer personalised content to members via articles, videos, online portals, and applications. Standard Life and Standard Life DC Master Trust also offer personalised content via push notifications and podcasts. Aviva Designer, Aviva My Money, Aviva My Money Master Trust and Mercer Master Trust Aviva also offer personalised content via wearable devices such as smart watches.

What methods are used to deliver personalised content to members?

Another area that is supported by workplace pension provider EAPs is access to specialist counselling. The providers who offer access to this are Aviva Designer, Aviva My Money, Aviva My Money Master Trust and Mercer Master Trust Aviva. The specialist counselling it available 24/7 on a one-to-one basis and is accessible face to face.

The Aviva solution is provided by Care First, and their EAP also offers access to a team of trained counsellors from The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) who can offer emotional support at difficult times.

No providers offer access to group or online counselling.

Overall, our data shows that there has been little change to the EAPs offered by workplace pension providers despite the demand for such propositions increasing due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, It should be noted that some providers, such as Aviva and Legal & General are offering EAP services via their protection products, not their pension products.