Stressed-Out Employees Cost Nearly $3,000 Per Month

21 May, 2019 Nancy Grover


Sarasota, FL ( - Most workers who use Employee Assistance Programs are self-referred. A new study shows supervisors and HR accounted for just 7 percent of the referrals.

That result is somewhat surprising, considering the costs of these workers to their employers.  Among the biggest are presenteeism, the inability to be productive while at work. The study outlines the lost hours and costs to organizations and the ultimate returns when these employees use EAPs.

The Findings

“The most defining problem for employees who used EAP counseling was presenteeism,” said the report, Workplace Well-being: A Summary of the 2018 Workplace Outcome Suite Annual Report. Produced by LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell and the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association, it is based on data from more than 23,000 employee use cases submitted by employee-assistance providers throughout the world.

Nearly half the workers suffered from depression, anxiety or personal stress; marriage and family issues comprised nearly one-third; work problems and occupational issues accounted for 18 percent of the employees, while substance abuse issues were noted by 4 percent.

The report cited the following average stats for each of these employees before they used EAP services: 

  • Lost productivity hours/days while at work. 54.95 hours per month, due to presenteeism. Calculations based on input from the workers indicated that they were unproductive 36 percent of their time while at work.
  • Missed work days. 7.36 hours per month, or about one day.  
  • Combined hours of lost work productive time. When absenteeism and presenteeism are combined, it shows employers are losing out on 62.31 hours of lost productivity time, or about 8 days per month. That is more than 2x as much as the average employee.  
  • Financial loss. $2,770 per employee per month, based on the business value of an hour of work at $44.45.

 EAP Benefits

“The impact of brief counseling on improving workplace outcomes was found to be quite consistent across different types of clients (age, sex), clinical (sources of referral into the EAP and type of clinical issue), employer factors (industry and EAP delivery model), country, and year of data collection,” the report said. “The biggest improvements were found for work presenteeism and life satisfaction.”

The authors looked at post-EAP use as measured over three months. They reported that presenteeism was reduced by 26 percent, life satisfaction increased by 23 percent, absenteeism fell by 27 percent, workplace distress decreased by 14 percent and work engagement improved by 8 percent.

“What is total cost savings per employee case?” the report asked. “The answer is $1,731 in workplace productivity return per average employee who used the EAP.”

The authors used that figure, along with an assumed $20 investment cost per employee per year to determine the return on investment. “This indicates a ratio of $3.37 returned to the company for every $1.00 invested in the EAP,” they wrote.

“The WOS Report provides compelling evidence supporting the important role that EAPs play in reducing absenteeism, improving the productivity and healthy functioning of employees in the workplace,” said Greg DeLapp, CEO of the EAPA. “When considering whether to provide employees with EAP access, employers should also take into account the impact of counseling on health care costs, accidents and employee turnover.”


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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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