Employee assistance programmes : a needs assessment and cost-benefit analysis

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

The aim of the research was firstly-to conduct a needs assessment for an employee assistance programme (EAP) at a financial company, in other words, to determine whether the employees of the financial company actually needed an EAP, and if so, what would be the most suitable form the EAP should take on. Several categories of information were collected, including the nature and frequency of personal problems experienced by employees of the company, current ways in which personal problems were handled, the form of assistance employees would prefer, and the attitude of employees towards a possible EAP at the company. This information was collected by means of a questionnaire developed for this research, and answered by a representative group of employees, as well as interviews conducted with the welfare officer and personnel practitioners at the company. The data were analysed by means of frequency tables, whereafter the results of the needs assessment indicated that there appeared to be a need for an EAP at the company. Recommendations concerning the most suitable EAP were then ~ made. The second aim of the research was to conduct an economic evaluation by means of a cost-benefit analysis of an EAP at a utility company, and comprised a monetary comparison of the estimated costs and benefits (savings) of the EAP. Thereafter the economic efficiency of the EAP was expressed in terms of savings per rand invested. The benefits of the EAP were represented by estimated savings due to reduction in absenteeism and increase in job performance due to EAP intervention. The costs attributable to the EAP include personnel salaries and benefits, training, administration costs, cost of materials and equipment, and travelling costs. The cost and benefit data were extracted from company records. The results indicated that the costs of operating the programme exceeded the benefits, that the EAP was possibly not run cost-effectively, and therefore that further evaluation of the procedures concerning the EAP was needed. In addition, the cost- benefit analysis indicated relatively high absenteeism and low levels of job performance among EAP clients, and on average this did not change after EAP intervention, in fact it became worse. This indicated the need for further research to determine whether there were other factors except personal problems that influenced absenteeism and job performance of EAP clients. If this was indeed the case then the fact that the costs of the EAP exceeded the benefits, could possibly not be blamed on the EAP.