By way of introduction, we asked EAPA-SA Board member, Dr Marion Borcherds to provide members with insights into her role on the Board in management of the Sponsorship and Stakeholders Relations portfolio, as well as her thoughts on membership participation and goals pertaining to EAPA-SA’s plans and key focus areas over the next five years as a leading industry association.

Dr Marion Borcherds has worked within the field of Employee Assistance for the last 20 years in both a senior manager and executive position. She is currently employed at Transnet as the Group Employee Wellness and Transformation Manager, managing the components of EAP, absenteeism management, medical schemes, incapacity and disability management, the HIV/AIDS workplace programme as well as the transformation portfolio.

Dr Borcherds is a thought leader in the employee wellness space, having designed, implemented and managed EWP programmes for both government and parastatals over the years.

She has worked in academia and the private sector; and her expertise in mental health and gender and reproductive health is worthy of noting. Dr Borcherds’ doctoral thesis was on the management of violence in the workplace and she has done extensive work on this topic, assisting with policy formulation and the protection of dignity and respect for employees.

Within South Africa, Dr Borcherds has ploughed back into the EAP industry by being actively involved as a committee member and as Chairperson (2010 – 2012) of the EAPA-Egoli Chapter. She has served two previous terms of office on the EAPA-SA Board, occupying the Education portfolio.

Q: What does your role as head of the Sponsorship and Stakeholders Relations portfolio entail?

A: The role entails engaging with potential and current sponsors. EAPA-SA is a non-profit organisation so the sustainability of the professional Association is also dependent upon sponsors who buy into the vision of the Association.  At the same time the portfolio is also responsible for nurturing positive stakeholder relations and as the work of the Association grows, we are seen as important partners. The number of stakeholders and sponsors have grown incrementally over the years.

Q: In your role as head of the Sponsorship and Stakeholders Relations portfolio, what are you looking to achieve in terms of support for this year’s Eduweek? 

A: I will try to engage with all of our current sponsors, but also to grow the sponsorship base. Stakeholders become partners when they buy into and believe in the vision of the Association in terms of increasing professionalisation of EAP in SA.

Q: What is the benefit to Stakeholders in partnering with EAPA-SA for the Eduweek events?

A: In the short term:  Stakeholders’ value is derived from the relationships they create in many workplaces across the country. All EAPA-SA members come from an organisation or company and in this way sponsors get maximum exposure to potential clients, both in the short and long-term.

In the long term:  Sponsors also contribute to health and wellness outcomes in the country, such as to the financial health of employees and this contributes to their CSI scorecard.

Q: What kind of partnerships would benefit EAPA-SA in the long run?  Are you looking for any sponsors in addition to Eduweek sponsors to support any of EAPA-SA’s other programmes?

A: Stakeholders can also contribute to health and wellness outcomes in ways that are unique to their companies, such as conducting health risk assessments (Wellness days), creating visibility for the Association (various conference organisers) and in media coverage that will increase attendance at the conferences from a broader section of the workplace.

Q: Are members able to do anything to encourage partnerships and stakeholder support of EAPA-SA’s activities? 

A: Members can allow access to their workplaces as this creates value for employees and sponsors.

Q: What developments would you like to see over the next three to five years from an internal EAPA-SA perspective?

I would like to see the sponsorship base growing significantly so that the Association is not so reliant on its conferences as the main funding mechanism.