The purpose of the research report was to contextualise EAP and OSW theoretically. In order to compare EAP and OSW, each field of practice will be described individually and broken down into separate components. Whether the employees’ issues are work-related, affecting their home-life or home-related affecting their work-life, the employee is experiencing imbalances relating to some form of stress, which ultimately affects their work productivity and job performance, as well as the workplace organisation.
Due to the impact that employees’ stress has on their job performance and productivity, a need arises for workplace programmes that provide personal and social services to employees, also referred to as Employee Assistance Programmes or EAP (Mogorosi, 2009:343).
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Occupational Social Work (OSW) was recognised as one of the core areas of social work intervention, evolving from the principles and background of generic social work practice, into a specialised field, and subsequently forming part of EAPs. Occupational social workers, as part of EAPs, were either employed by the organisation or hired, as part of outsourced services, to render counseling services and interventions to employees and their families. Overtime, EAP dominated the OSW scene, thus EAP and OSW were often used and referred to interchangeably (Mor Barak &Bargal, 2000:3).
Due to the increasing interest in both fields, and possibly due to their need to attain recognition and professional status within their respective disciplines and fields of practice, employee assistance professionals and practitioners, and occupational social workers established professional bodies that would ultimately serve the interests of their members and members’ client systems alike. In 1997, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association of South Africa (EAPA-SA) became an official branch of EAPA Incorporated, while the South African Occupational Social Work Association (SAOSWA), formerly known as the Forum for Occupational Social Workers, was established in 2003 (EAPA-SA, 2016; SAOSWA, 2017). The research report provides the key findings of research which explored the similarities and differences between employee assistance Programmes and occupational social work. Data was collected from two focus groups consisting of members of the EAPA-SA and SAOSWA.
The researcher had direct contact with participants through conducting field research, in the form of focus groups, “to gain a sense of subtle non-verbal communication and understanding the interaction in its real context. The study focused on the construction of detailed descriptions of the participants’ realities and the meanings they attach to their work experience, knowledge and settings. The research study aimed to understand, as opposed to control, the commonalities and differences through comparing EAP and OSW.
Data sources was determined and utilised, based on the richness of information participants offered, thus enhancing the researcher understanding of the specific phenomenon. Data was collected verbally from a small sample of participants through focus group discussions to gain an understanding of participants’ experiences relating to their respective fields.
The report further provides the conclusions and recommendations resulting from the key findings.
Mini Dissertation (MSW (EAP))--University of Pretoria, 2019.