The South African approach towards employee assistance
By Professor Lourie Terblanche

Book review:
Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are holistic workplace initiatives designed to assist employees with a range of work- and personal-related problems that may affect their job performance as well as their overall wellbeing. Traced back to beginnings in the 1930s, when the earliest crude EAPs tackled alcohol problems, EAPs are widely used by large organisations today to help maintain a happier, healthier workforce.

EAPA-SA is the official voice of the Employee Assistance (EA) profession in South Africa. Now approaching its 20 th anniversary, this registered N.P.O. strives to ensure the highest level of professional standards, ethics and continuing development of Employee Assistance Programmes in this country, working with 500 individual members and 28 registered service Providers. As a branch of the international Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) it has twice been named Branch of the Year; received several international awards and influenced the evolution of EAPs in Africa and globally.

To commemorate its anniversary, EAPA-SA approached Professor Lourie Terblanche of the University of Pretoria – and past President of the organisation – to compile this publication; both to exhaustively mark the many contributions of numerous individuals to advancing the EAP industry in South Africa, and to provide the definitive guidebook to organisations wishing to launch an EAP – or to optimise their existing employee assistance efforts.

Exhaustive it is, covering the genesis of EAPs in South Africa’s mining belt in the early 1980s, to expansion of the EAP concept into other industries and, ultimately, to EAPA-SA networking with, and drawing influence from, other stakeholders in the African and international EAPA network. To pull together this detailed historical overview, Professor Terblanche scoured archives and boxes of manuscripts and interviewed past presidents, chairpersons and others integral to EAPA-SA’s growth.

Particularly engaging is the wealth of historical insight on a host of EAPA-SA service providers and role players in South Africa, from prominent industry players ICAS to LifeAssist, KAELO, BSS Africa and many other – to a degree – unsung heroes of the EAP movement in this region. The accomplishments of notable individuals both within and in association with EAPA-SA are recorded, and there is frequent reference to the late JBP Starker; trained psychologist, mentor to the author and the man who first introduced the EAP concept into South Africa.

The book also revisits every conference and gathering of import to the advancement of EAPA-SA, and the awards it has handed out to hard-working individuals and chapters over the years.

Definitive it is, too, with almost 100 pages outlining the official “Standards for Employee Assistance Programmes in South Africa” – constituting essential reference material for any organisation, in the public and private sector that wishes to implement a holistic, responsive and responsible EAP. The Standards guidelines are accompanied by a detailed Needs Assessment Tool; together they provide a platform from which any organisation can build an EAP suited to its particular make-up. EAPs in both the public and private sector receive significant coverage by the author.

At almost 700 pages in all, it is no wonder the book took longer than Professor Terblanche had expected to complete; but his efforts were certainly worth it, resulting as they did in a full account of the genesis, history and future of EAPA-SA, for all who have been part of the journey – and as a benchmark guide for the application of EAPs in all sectors and industries. I have no doubt that EAP BUSINESS will expand the association’s influence globally, and that the strength of “the South African approach” will be widely discussed around the international EAPA network – Gareth Pike, Future of HR Content Head

R795 recommended retail price (excl. postage)
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