Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 on an employee assistance programme in a multinational insurance organisation: Considerations for the future

Dieter Veldsman, Ninette van Aarde
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1863 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1863 | © 2021 Dieter Veldsman, Ninette van Aarde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 December 2020 | Published: 27 September 2021

About the author(s)

Dieter Veldsman, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Economics and Finance, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ninette van Aarde, Department of Organisational Effectiveness, Group Human Capital, Momentum Metropolitan, Centurion, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to an increased focus on the effectiveness of employee assistance programmes (EAPs).

Research purpose: To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on the value, utilisation and scope of an EAP within the South African insurance sector.

Motivation for the study: Higher levels of stress and anxiety experienced by employees because of COVID-19 has necessitated the need to better understand the reasons for EAPs utilisation and its effectiveness within organisations.

Research approach/design and method: The study provided an overview of employee well-being and an overview of the origins and evolution of EAPs. The study utilised thematic analysis to analyse 1002 cases with a sample of n = 907, pre-and post-onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main findings: The utilisation of EAPs increased because of COVID-19, yet the reasons for accessing these programmes remained largely consistent before and during COVID-19. At a sub-theme level, the priority of themes differed across the time periods influenced by external context and circumstance.

Practical/managerial implications: The study found a need to clearly define employee well-being and reposition the role of EAPs within the organisation. Organisations need to broaden the scope of EAPs and through continuous education and awareness create an environment where employees feel like they can safely access these services.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes towards the current literature on employee well-being and providing a perspective on the relevance, value and utilisation of EAPs before and during a pandemic.


Keywords

employee well-being; employee assistance programmes; wellness; COVID-19; employee value proposition

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