While employee assistance (EAP) and work-life programs are seen as vital to addressing workforce productivity issues, leveraging data to justify further investment during hard times remains a challenge. 

Using analytics to justify health and productivity initiatives

While employee assistance (EAP) and work-life programs are seen as vital to addressing workforce productivity issues, leveraging data to justify further investment during hard times remains a challenge.

Today's analytics and reporting capabilities, however, easily and quickly present the information HR professionals must bring to the table in order to justify and expand upon current initiatives, according to Jayson Saba, HR analyst and vice president of strategy and industry relations for Ceridian.

"HR is beginning to back up their claims of increased employee health and productivity with real data," Saba said. "But measuring for the sake of measuring is ineffective without correlating results to business performance — a feat that can take days in a spreadsheet."

Getting buy-in from leadership

Several statistics have been cited in the marketplace regarding the value of EAP and work-life programs. The Department of Health and Human Services discovered that companies with EAPs in place have a 21 percent lower absenteeism rate and a 14 percent higher productivity rate. A Federal Occupational Health study found for that EAPs reduced unplanned absences and tardiness by an average 1.5 days per case, and improved participant productivity by 73 percent.

However, internal statistics on health and productivity have historically been even harder to derive than those for other areas of HR. "Company leaders want HR to go beyond participation and prove that the program delivers a solid return on investment, addressing productivity, absenteeism and behavioral health care costs," said Jennifer Piliero, senior product manager for Health and Productivity Services at Ceridian.

According to Piliero, EAP and work-life analytics dashboards that combine extensive program metrics, behavioral health plan information and employee-reported outcomes use the right key performance indicators to present return on investment. "By aligning these factors, you can determine that a high percentage of personal employee issues were resolved through fixed-cost program resources rather than expensive external providers," said Piliero.

Source: Ceridian EAP/work-life client value dashboard

By incorporating employee survey results into the dashboard, HR professionals can also determine the program's effect on turnover, absenteeism and "presenteeism," or unproductive time spent at work. "Under anonymous circumstances, employees are surprisingly honest about the program's effect on their job satisfaction and efficiency," Piliero said. "If your program is effective at resolving issues and engaging employees, your dashboard can analyze improved employee perceptions against the cost of turnover and productivity loss to clearly show success in dollars and cents. Then, with open-ended feedback, you can show the human element — how the program helps your people and fosters loyalty."

Making data-based program improvements

Once HR justifies continued investment in the company's health and productivity efforts by presenting data-based ROI and results, they can dig deeper to discover the organization's unique issues and target them to better contain productivity-related labor costs.

"For example, you might drill down into the categories for which the participants use program resources and find that work stress is high on the list," Piliero said. "This may warrant a session with managers to understand the source of the surge — perhaps a downsizing or organizational realignment. Then, the combined metrics and feedback may justify an additional solution that will boost engagement and productivity."



Source: Ceridian EAP/work-life client value dashboard

EAP and work-life analytics components significantly aid this kind of analysis and decision-making through quick, accurate manipulation of data by issue, location, service used, etc. They can also help HR track the progress of program changes throughout the year, and year-over-year, using frequently refreshed data and built-in trending tools.

How does your company measure and analyze its EAP and work-life efforts? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information:

  • Watch the recording of our HR analytics webinar
  • Learn about Ceridian's EAP and work-life solutions
  • View our HR analytics infographic