Employee Assistance Program in the Government of South Africa

Employee Assistance Programs are an essential aspect of many organizations, including governments of various countries. Generally, the employee assistance programs provide brief interventions, assessments, screening, and outpatient counseling for addictions and mental health problems, as part of the services offered to a client organization. Some of the sources for these employees’ problems can be work-related or personal. Personal triggers are addiction problems, mental health illnesses and problems, family or marital-related, and financial or legal aspects. Workplace triggers include stress, violence, harassment, and conflict in the place of work. The employee assistance programs entail multidisciplinary professionals, including nurses, drug abuse counselors, professional counselors, psychologists, and social workers. South Africa has specific standards for employee assistance programs that any organization should adopt without compromising any principle. This paper will assess the employee assistance program in the government of South Africa regarding the set standards, core technologies, policy, and design.

The Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) was established within the South African public service offices. EAPs were implemented to focus on various problems that employees face. Such problems include diseases, problems in an employee’s relationship, mental problems, problems with adapting to the public service offices, drug abuse, and among other things (Burnhams et al., 2015). This research aims at assessing the effectiveness of EAPs in the government of South Africa, focusing on the public service offices. Research conducted by Hamilton & Streets (2016) indicates that the EAPs experience is different for the full-time and part-time workers. Full-time workers have a lower satisfaction level with the EAPs than part-time employees.

Additionally, the effectiveness of the EAPs is different for different offices. Employees in Gauteng provincial and national departments have a high-level satisfaction with the EAPs. In contrast, those in Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal have a lower level of satisfaction with the EAPs (Chabalala, 2015). The following standards will help assess the EAPs in the government of South Africa: standards organizational profiling, policy, advisory committee, service delivery systems, and costing models.

Standards Organizational Profiling

This assessment of organizational profiling should be based on the organization’s needs and employees. The design of the EAPs adopted in the workplace should include each of the employees’ profiles (Csiernik et al., 2012). This assessment aims to ensure that the organization designs EAPs cost-effective and most appropriate services. Public service offices in South Africa have not designed the EAPs effectively because they apply to all employees working in the government offices (Csiernik et al., 2010). Different employees have different needs depending on their type of work, workforce size, ethnicity, gender, skills, and roles in the workplace (Graffam et al., 2014). Full-time employees do not have the same needs as part-time employees, and likewise, a manager has different needs from a cleaner or an office assistant.

HIV/AIDS has become a global issue, and every organization should aim to add an EAP that caters to the people living with the disease. There is great pressure to include EAPs that help people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa because employees feel this need has yet to be catered for. The government of South Africa has a long way to go in designing EAPs tailored to meet the needs of each employee (Harper, 2019). Additionally, as highlighted earlier, some employees feel that the EAPs do not cater to their personal needs (Jääskeläinen &Roitto, 2015). This identification implies that the South African government should consider revisiting the EAPs to ensure that they cater to the needs of all the employees.


When an organization has a well-written policy, there is a consistent application of the EAP rules. This standard of assessment should describe the EAP in its entirety. The policy ensures that the focal areas, principles, and mandates of the EAP are balanced, applied consistently, and fair to all employees (Kosanovich et al., 2010). The EAP’s policy should be clear and specific, and it should have clear mandates, protecting all the interests of the stakeholders involved. Additionally, it should be aligned with the organization’s strategy (MacAulay, 2015). The policy should accommodate matters such as clinical data, the employee and dependent access, securing the job status after seeking the EAP services, and specifying what employees who need EAP need to do to perform well.

The government of South Africa has a well-detailed policy that states the nature of EAPs and the various needs that they cater to for the employees in the public service. The policy includes the common objectives that are covered by the departmental policies of the EAP (Masuku & Jili, 2019). Additionally, it entails the rights and responsibilities of the employees who use the EAP services. Some of the employees’ rights are that participating in EAP should not jeopardize their work or an opportunity for promotion, and their information should remain confidential. One responsibility of the public service employees is that they should maintain a quality job performance (Mugari et al., 2014). The employees should be responsible for their health, and they should participate in all the sessions of the program. These insights regarding the policies of the EAP show that they meet the set standards.

Advisory Committee

All organizations should have an advisory committee that involves representatives from various workforce segments. Such a committee ensures that the role-players such as union members, supervisors, employees, and the top management contribute to the effective operation and design of the EAP (Ogony & Majola, 2018). Public service offices have advisory committees at the high levels of the government. These advisory committees have the roles of formulating the strategies and policies, helping in the promotion and marketing of the EAP, contributing to monitoring and evaluation, and advising in the procedure for implementing EAP (Public Service Commission, 2016). The advisory committee in South Africa entails important external role-players such as specialists for employee relations, human resources, finance department, and union representatives. The government of South Africa follows the guidelines laid out for the advisory committee in the country (Taghian & Shaw, 2008). One example of such a guideline is that the available senior manager should chair the committee. The advisory committee members are appointed in writing by the business unit head or managing director.

Service Delivery System

A sound delivery system helps enhance the organization’s service in terms of both the corporate client and the individual. This effective system results in the most efficient financial resources application. A service delivery system helps ensure that the EAP is functional and cost-effective and a balance between benefits and expenditures (Terblanche, 2009). The government of South Africa does not have an efficient service delivery system because financial allocation is one of the issues affecting EAP effectiveness in the public service offices. With an efficient service delivery system, the head of the department has the role of allocating adequate financial and human resources to the program. Departments in the South African public service do not receive equal resource allocation. Some benefit more than others, which affects the program’s efficiency (Mugari et al., 2014). Departments with adequate financial and human resource reports have a high involvement of employees in the program. The government should work on this aspect and ensure proper service delivery systems.

Costing Models

Costing models aim to ensure equal and adequate financial allocation to the EAP. A good costing model must be acceptable and transparent to all stakeholders involved. Additionally, it should be compatible with the corporate governance and the general philosophy of the employer (Ogony & Majola, 2018). The model should consider the available financial resources and ensure they are allocated and used efficiently. From the previous section, it is clear that the government of South Africa does not have an efficient costing model because it has an unequal distribution of financial resources (MacAulay, 2015). All heads of the various departments in the public service should be consulted before making a costing model. This move will ensure the proper allocation of funds to cater to the various needs of the employees.

In conclusion, the assessment of the EAP in the government of South Africa indicates the current state of the provision of EAP services to the employees. EAPs in the public service has a detailed policy, increasing their efficiency. Additionally, advisory committees exist that ensure the role players contribute effectively to the program. The government does not conduct organizational profiling before formulating the EAP, making the program not meet the employees’ specific needs. Weak areas include service delivery systems, costing models, and organizational profiling. This assessment shows that the government needs to work on the weak areas for the EAP to be effective.


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