The role of the supervisor in an employee assistance programme in a mining company
Kali, Maria Nchelete
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In the occupational setting, supervisory referral is a unique tool. It allows supervisors to spot emerging problems through deteriorating job performance and refer the employee to EAP by means of confrontation and threat of disciplinary action or job loss, (Googins 8.Godfrey, 1987:147). For a variety of reasons, supervisors at Anglo-gold Ashanti may not have been carrying out their roles within the EAP sufficiently, and consequently referrals have not been made. In view of this, an exploratory study, including a literature review as well as an empirical survey was undertaken with respect to various trends and barriers that may affect the supervisors' role within EAP. Examples of these were lack of supervisor's knowledge about EAP, the tendency of supervisors to handle the problem themselves, the perception that referring might reflect badly on their ability to supervise, fear of the disciplinary process, fear of betrayal of the employee, a misguided sense of responsibility and/or a reluctance to confront someone. In addition to these factors, the attitudes of supervisors towards EAP processes were also established as another possible determining factor influencing their referrals to EAP. This main purpose of this survey was, if found necessary, to enhance the supervisor's role within EAP. The empirical side of the study covers all Anglo-gold Ashanti supervisors from various mining shafts. The questionnaire was broken into questions covering the knowledge aspect on the one hand, and both perceptions and attitudes towards the EAP process in general on the other. It was found that supervisors in general were experiencing problems in understanding their role within EAP. They are not clear about when and how to confront an employee with a personal problem, and what to do next. Some of them were also not properly trained for their role within an EAP. The study therefore concludes that effective use of an EAP rests heavily on supervisors' shoulders -especially in programmes that involve a mandatory element. It is true that these are the people in the organization who identify, motivate and refer employees who need help to the relevant people. If the EAP helps the employee, it helps both the supervisor and the company, too. The study therefore recommends intensive training for supervisors about EAP processes.
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