We spoke to Safia Joseph, Project Manager of Careways Wellness to get her insights on the value of the event and input on the benefits she derived from attending EAPA-SA Eduweek. Safia is a registered psychologist with approaching 20 years’ experience – and extensive experience in the field of trauma and EAP. She currently manages the KwaZulu-Natal region for Careways Wellness, Life Healthcare’s employee wellness arm. This includes managing the eThekwini Municipality account and serving as a clinical consultant to all Careways staff.
Q: How did you find the Eduweek experience?
I found it to be very interesting and quite eye opening. I think as practitioners we can get caught up in routines and doing the job we were trained to do. So, it was very interesting to be able to share thoughts with colleagues and other practitioners who work in the same space, and to see how their challenges seem to be quite similar to my own. Attending Eduweek also gave me the opportunity to share insights with people who are industry thought leaders in terms of what’s happening in the market and where our profession is going – providing an opportunity not only to keep abreast of what’s happening out there, but also to feel encouraged, especially in the face of the 4IR. Just hearing the conversations and attending presentations about 4IR makes us EAP practitioners realise what our skill-set is and how it can be enhanced by the use of available technology. Our work can be very isolating and until you have a meeting of the minds with people who are in the same boat as you, with the same ideas and the same fears – or different ideas – it’s very easy to succumb to being apprehensive. Our people contact is with our clients and when you attend events such as Eduweek – and when you work in a larger organisation as I do now – it provides the space to be able to share your misgivings and to be able to hear from others that it’s not all doom and gloom.
“it was very interesting to be able to share thoughts with colleagues and other practitioners who work in the same space…” Safia Joseph, Project Manager, Careways Wellness
“Eduweek is powerful because we have so many EA professionals with a voice, and it allows us to share our thoughts and industry concerns.”
Q: How do you see Eduweek benefitting EAP in South Africa?
Eduweek is powerful because we have so many EA professionals with a voice, and it allows us to share our thoughts and industry concerns. As a result we can’t fold our arms and say, “We didn’t know. We don’t like this and yet it happened beyond us.” Also, as an organisation EAPA-SA ensures that our profession is regulated and that we conduct our work to the highest standard. The Association is a body that is a custodian of industry best practice – of how it can be done and how it should be done. This provides support to draw from, but also keeps practitioners in check, particularly because there are many people in the psychology and social work fraternities who opt not to gain experience in employee assistance work. For me there is a particular skill-set within employee assistance work. It requires a particular set of skills to be able to work within a brief model that is solution-focused, while understanding the work context, even when dealing with personal issues and not work issues. So, having an organisation like EAPA-SA who convenes Eduweek, which creates the opportunity for us to be able to learn from one another, and also serves to regulate and standardise best practice in the EAP industry, is amazing.
Is there a presentation that stood out for you?
Definitely the presentation on the 4IR – Endangered or enduring – Maintaining relevance as an organisation. The presenter, Charlotte Kemp, is a dynamic speaker who spoke on how maintaining relevance is vital for organisations – for employers as well as the people who find themselves working within organisations. She brought home how easily we could be left behind if we don’t ask the right questions. Charlotte started her presentation highlighting that if we don’t think forward instead of focussing on where we’ve come from we run the risk of becoming obsolete. Just because something is proven to be the best option for the time does not mean it is going to be the best thing forever. This grabbed my attention because of how topical it is within the EAP industry that chatbots could replace what we do. It has been a burning question at the back of my mind. How do we remain relevant? Where is our place in the advent of technology? Particularly because, even though there might be robots and could be people who find some level of satisfaction from receiving attention from an AI, does not negate the need for having a practitioner they can sit with, face-to-face, and have human contact.
What key information are you taking away from Eduweek?
For me personally: firstly that I need to attend more events such as Eduweek. We as practitioners cannot just depend on keeping up-to-date by reading articles. We may read and absorb and attempt to remain clued up to what is happening out there, but it is in discussions that we actually forge new paths and explore new territories. It was so encouraging and enlightening to be a part of Eduweek’s group-think dynamic. I would be short changing myself not to be able to regularly engage at this level. The second thing is how beneficial it is to be able to connect and network with other people in the industry. I was able to meet with people who I have emailed and whose names I know, and with whom I have shared a lot of banter, but who I have never before met with, face-to-face.
Careways Wellness is the employee wellness arm of Life Employee Health Solutions, alongside Life Occupational Health. Life Employee Health Solutions offers holistic outsourced employee health and wellness services that balance occupational health with employee wellness. This fully-integrated employee health solution manages employee health and wellness through standardised quality systems, occupational health services, wellness interventions, health education and clinical protocols. The organisation’s extensive national infrastructure and network of wellness practitioners enable them to deliver flexible, customer-focused employee health solutions that meet employers’ needs in small, medium, large, single-site and national businesses.