AN EXCERPT FROM THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE LEADERSHIP MAGAZINE
An organisation’s biggest investment is its people. Most organisational leaders know instinctively that a happy, healthy workforce is a productive workforce, but many still view Employee Assistance (EAP) and Wellness programmes as an ‘optional extra’ or “compliance” issue rather than an integral organizational health, safety and behaviour risk management partner.
An Employee Assistance Programme is “the work organisation’s resource utilising specific core technologies or functions to enhance employee and workplace effectiveness through prevention, identification, and resolution of personal and productivity issues.” These problems may include health problems, marital and relationship issues, family, financial, substance abuse and work related problems. . The specific core activities of EAPs both preventive and mitigating include organizational consultation services; case management, training and development; marketing, stakeholder management and monitoring and evaluation. EAPA-SA has developed national standards which provide a comprehensive blueprint for EAP practice in South Africa.
PROFESSIONAL BODY: EAPA-SA
The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the largest, oldest and most respected professional association for persons in the EAP field. EAPA represents more than 3500 individuals and organisations with an interest in Employee Assistance across 40 countries. EAPA-SA was created as a Branch of EAPA International in 1997 to ensure the highest professional standards; ethics and continued development of the Employee Assistance professionals, practitioners and service providers in the delivery of EA programmes. ₂
SCOPE OF WORK
Fundamentally, Employee Assistance is the application in the workplace of knowledge about organizational and behavioural health to enable an optimal level of both personal and workplace functioning. That means the Employee Assistance profession is a unique integration of organisation development, behavioural and physical health, human resources, and business management.3
Requirements to become an EAP Practitioner vary according to the nature of the organisation and responsibilities. EAPA-SA presently confers 2 SAQA registered professional designations for members viz: EA Professional and EA Practitioners. Employee Assistance Professionals have qualifications at NQF level 9 in Behavioural Health and/or Business Sciences such as Social Work or Psychology with relevant work experience and may be expected to deliver therapeutic services to their clients. EA Practitioners also enter the profession with backgrounds in Human Resources, Nursing and Organisational Development to coordinate EAPs, manage service provider contracts and deliver non-clinical services.
Several colleges and universities offer formal training programs but because the Employee Assistance profession draws on the knowledge and skills of a variety of disciplines, most professional development happens through continuing education.3
A “cross pollination” of knowledge and skills from the different disciplines becomes necessary for EAP competence. A career in EAP typically calls for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Behavioural, Health and Business Sciences and 2-5 years of experience. Previous work experience in related areas such as Human Resources, Exercise Science, Medicine, Psychology, Social Science or Nutrition may be helpful as an entry point. Workplace experience is an essential element in equipping a person with the necessary skills to become an EAP Practitioner.
Representative job description
Principal accountability and key performance areas may include:
- Organizational profiling and program design
- Develop a management system for the program including strategy, policies, procedures and functional structures
- Implementation of direct clinical and non-clinical services
- Training for all stakeholders in the organization
- Program communication and promotion
- Information and record management
- Monitoring and Evaluation of impact and return on investment
- Organizational consultation and stakeholder management
Various tertiary institutions in South Africa offer courses in EAP, for example:
- University of Pretoria, offers a Masters Programme specializing in EAP as well as short courses through Enterprises University of Pretoria in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban and Cape Town.4
- Wits University, through Wits Plus, offers a certificate course entitled, “Implementing Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) in the Workplace” This course aims to provide the participants with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitude to implement Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) within private companies, government departments and service provider organisations or to become Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) practitioners.5
- University of South Africa (UNISA), Short Course in Employee Wellness (71579). Open distance learning combined with a reader, tutorial letters, learning experiences in the form of self-assessment activities and assessment (formative and summative) activities, a non-compulsory two and a half day workshop will be held in Pretoria each semester.6
EAP CODE OF ETHICS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The unique “dual client” nature of employee assistance work can complicate ethical decision-making because the EAP professional always has client responsibilities to both the work organisation and the individual employee or family member. EAPA-SA has developed several resources to assist EAP professionals and others in understanding and addressing potential EAP ethical issues as well as provide a network of professional support through its local Chapters.
EAPA-SA Code of Ethics
EAPA-SA has established an Ethics Committee is to promote the highest ethical practice among Employee Assistance Professionals and other members. The ethical behaviour and conduct of an EAP professional is concerned with the wellbeing of individuals served and this Code extends to activities and relationships with employers, colleagues, unions, professionals from other disciplines, the local community and society as a whole.
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Contributor: Thiloshni Govender
EAPA-SA Board Member: President Elect
EAPA-SA PRESIDENT ELECT
Vice President of the Association.
Born and raised in Durban but in love with the Eastern Cape since 1996, Thiloshni Govender is the mother of 2 gorgeous boys aged 14 and 12 years old. She is a free spirit who believes that GOD is too big to fit into one religion.
Thiloshni has been actively involved in the field of Employee Assistance since 1996. She has been a founding member of the EAPA Ikhala Chapter in East London, being vice – chairperson in 2005 and then chairperson in 2007. The chapter received two awards for EAPA-SA Branch of the year. She was awarded the EAPA-SA Certificate of Merit in 2006 for her contribution to the EAP field.
She has served EAPA-SA in the portfolios of Research, Conference and Finance before being elected in 2013 as President Elect. Thiloshni has also been actively involved in the revision of EAPA-SA Standards adopted in 2010.
Thiloshni qualified as a Social Worker from the University of Durban-Westville in 1991and completed her Master’sDegree in Social Work: EAP at University of Pretoria in 2009. She started her career in the NGO sector in 1992, working for Child Welfare in Durban and SANCA Alcohol and Drug Centre in East London in 1996. It was at SANCA that she was introduced to the field of Employee Assistance. In 2000 she moved into the Public Service doing EAP full time at the Department of Correctional Services and then in 2004 to the Department of Agriculture as Deputy Director: Employee Wellness. In April 2008 she was appointed as Director: Employee Wellness for the Department of Health where she is presently responsible for Employee Assistance, Occupational Health and Safety, HIV and TB Workplace Programmes, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases as well as employee Sport and Recreation.
She has extensive work experience with a wide range of psychosocial problems but specializes in Substance Abuse and Addiction, Trauma,Bereavement, Incapacity Management and Supervisory and Personal Growth Training. She has also supervised and coached Social Work / Research Students, junior Social Workers and EAP Practitioners since 1996. She is currently exploring Art Therapy in the workplace setting..