Are Employee Assistance Programs an Effective Mechanism for Preventing, Managing and Alleviating Stress in the Workplace?
Date of Award
Master of Arts (Research)
Cork Institute of Technology
Dr. Deirdre O'Donovan
According to the EAP Institute (2015), the rise in litigation related to occupational illnesses in the 1980’s has spurred companies to take employee health and well-being more seriously, which, subsequently, led to a growth in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). In particular, the employers' liability for workplace stress continues to be one of the growth areas in Irish employment law (CIPD, 2012), ultimately placing very substantial obligations on employers (Gorry, 2015). This includes the employer’s obligation to identify risk factors, and put in place remedial mechanisms for, preventing, managing and alleviating stress in the workplace.
This dissertation focuses on examining whether EAPs are an effective mechanism for preventing, managing and alleviating stress in the workplace. The study primarily focuses on an Organisation which had recently introduced an EAP, as part of their overall HR function. A mixed method approach was used for conducting the primary research for this study, to gain an insight into the perspective of both the employer and employee at the participating Organisation. Additionally an in-depth interview was conducted with an EAP Consultant, to explore whether the organisation effectively measures and evaluates the impact of the EAP.
Overall, it has been determined that there is a lack of factual evidence to state that EAPs are an effective mechanism for preventing, managing, and alleviating stress in the workplace. Both the primary and secondary data of this study have noted the absence of sufficient evaluation mechanisms both internally and externally. It is believed that the EAP should only be used for discussing personal, non- related work matters, as otherwise HR cannot be fully in control of employee matters.
Another salient finding from this study indicates that the lack of knowledge, and awareness of the EAP, is preventing the EAP from reaching its full potential. It is believed that EAPs have the potential to be a valuable mechanism for Organisations, if they are integrated properly in the first instance.
O'Keeffe, Carol, "Are Employee Assistance Programs an Effective Mechanism for Preventing, Managing and Alleviating Stress in the Workplace?" (2015). Theses [online].
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/allthe/512
Submission for the Award of Master of Arts in Human Resource Management