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Effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme in Addressing Issues of Poor Performance

Info: 9078 words (36 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Employment


EAP:   Employee Assistance Programme

HIV:     Human Immunodeficiency Virus

AIDS:   Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

DSD:    Department of Social Development

SPSS: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences



The face of the workplace has changed dramatically over the past decade. An increasingly empowered and diverse workforce, technological advancements, increased competition and globalisation have created a new workplace reality that is substantially different to that of the past. Helping employees maintain their health and well-being is both a moral and a hard business issue (Bessinger, 2006:11). According to Paul (2007:28), employers want proven intervention strategies that reduce human capital risks and boosts productivity, as well as communication methods that effectively engage employees to make good health care and life style decisions.

In a society where the scramble for employment has become a way of life and where companies are facing social, economic and financial challenges and constraints, some form of specialised service is required within the setting to deal with these issues before they escalate or deteriorate.

The UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development started the implementation of the Employee Assistance Programme in 2007, in response to the need for transformation and transparency within the public sector. The main focus was to implement changes in the well-being and working environment in the department so that service delivery, employees’ health, performance and productivity could be enhanced.

However, though employers undoubtedly see the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as a therapeutic tool to enhance job performance and restore the worker to full productivity, question remains as to whether this system actually improves performance and the well-being of the employee or does it lead to lack of confidence, resilience and a fall in employee satisfaction and utilisation of the programme.  The study will investigate the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development. The background to the problem will be discussed, the aims and objectives will be set out, followed by literature review and the chosen research methodology.



Absenteeism, low morale and poor performance impact negatively on the organisation. Employees need greater assistance within the working environment to deal effectively with personal problems. The concept of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as a workplace intervention tool is relatively new in the public sector. It was originally established to assist employees with socio-economic issues. The stresses of the modern working environment, the many changes in the South African working environment and especially the advent of HIV and AIDS have changed the profile of the EAP in the public sector drastically (Schoeman and Petzer, 2005:119).

Historically the EAP mainly supported individual wellness, through counselling and such educational efforts as stress management, managing change, and other wellness promotion strategies. The Work-life Balance Programme promotes flexibility in the workplace to accommodate work, personal and family needs; which can result in benefits to organisations due to higher levels of employee satisfaction and motivation. Wellness management strives to meet the health and wellness needs of the public servants through preventative and curative measures by customising those aspects from traditional programmes such as EAP, Work-life Balance and, Wellness Management programmes that are most relevant and fit the uniqueness of the public service and its mandate (Terblanche and Pillay, 2012:229). 

When a devastating event strikes, it is promising to know that there is a system in place to support employees.   EAP’s are designed to provide support to employees that are navigating life issues that may influence their ability to come to work and be productive in the workplace.

EAP’s are usually accessible to employees at no cost and offer confidential access to professional assistance with a variety of problems affecting employees.  It may include help with facing personal issues such as alcohol and substance abuse or depression, marital and family difficulties, and financial or legal dilemmas.

EAPs are primarily concerned with interventions aimed at the promotion of effectiveness and consequently productivity in the workplace. Matlhape (2003:31) contends that EAP services are an essential component in the workplace, given the key role it can play in enhancing productivity and improving profitability.

In the public service a changing economy, technological advances, long working hours, shifting demographics of the work-force all increase the rate of stress-related disorders which can result in an increase in physical and psychological problems that hamper productivity and performance. The UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development is committed to maintaining a healthy work environment and recognises that many human problems which may affect work performance can be resolved if they are identified in the early stages.

However, even though progress has been made with the implementation of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in the Department, there are few concerns which still require attention. These include lack of participation by employees in the programme as expected, absence of regular interventions by supervisors and managers which is crucial in ensuring the effectiveness of the programme and employees’ fear of stigmatisation, trust and lack of confidence in the programme.

Employees’ lack of acceptance, training and misconceptions of the programme can deter personal utilisation of the programme in the workplace. This study will therefore dwell on the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development.


EAPs have been designed and introduced in work organisations both in the public and private sectors to improve productivity levels and the quality of the employees’ lives. However, most EAPs do not achieve their planned and intended goals, despite being well planned in terms of finances, structure and staff. The researcher is interested in investigating the effectiveness of the EAP within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development.


Since the establishment of the programme in 2007, the programme was never subjected to any formal evaluation process in order to check, whether the programme meets its intended goals. One of the EAP goals outlined by Matlhape (2003:37) is to address alcohol and substance abuse problems in order to improve productivity and employees’ performance. The results of the study will provide the Department of Social Development with an indication of the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in addressing issues of poor performance, productivity and service delivery and to improve knowledge of the services rendered to employees through the organisation’s EAP.



The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in addressing issues of poor performance of employees within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal.



The four research objectives are as follows:

  • To investigate the level of awareness and utilisation of the EAP services being offered to employees within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal.
  • To assess the benefits of the programme to the employee within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal.
  • To investigate the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in addressing issues of poor performance within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development;
  • To make recommendations that would improve the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development.




From the above research objectives, the following questions have been derived:

  • What is the level of awareness and utilisation of the EAP services being offered to employees within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal?
  • What are the benefits of the programme to the employees within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal?
  • What is the level of effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in addressing issues of poor performance within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development?
  • What recommendations can be made to improve the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development?



Till now, within the Department of Social Development, there has been no known studies carried out to investigate the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This research is therefore very significant in order to determine how employees are adapting to the EAP programme and whether they are using it in ways which are more detrimental to the organisation and themselves. It is only after this study, that recommendations can be provided as to how the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can be beneficial to both the employer and employees in addressing issues of poor performance.

The research will benefit both the organisation and the employees in DSD. The study will assist management to develop new methods in addressing employee concerns thereby enhancing organisational performance and employee’s personal and professional well-being. The organisation will realise that a happy employee is a productive employee and therefore, the working environment will be improved.


Employees will also gain from this research as it will assist them to determine personal awareness and understanding of the programme, and identify aspects that might be contributing to under-utilisation of the programme in the Department.

The study will also be significant to the EAP professionals within the Department to broaden their scope and knowledge on the subject and help them come up with the best EAP model.

The policy developers can also benefit from the study as it will provide knowledge that will assist in the formulation of Employee Assistance Programme policies to ensure proper implementation and effectiveness.

It will also contribute to the existing body of research knowledge for this specialised discipline and help other organisations to gain awareness and knowledge about the implementation of EAP services at a departmental level.

On a personal level, the researcher will gain research experience and knowledge and make meaningful contributions towards formulating possible solutions to the specific research problem.


This section provides an outline of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and how it has assisted organisations in becoming more robust in adapting new techniques of improving employee performance.  Thus, the level of awareness and adaptability to the programme by employees will be studied.

This is followed by a discussion about the benefits and shortcomings of the programme on both the organisation and its employees. Thereafter, a study of the effects of such a programme on the employee’s performance will be carried out.



  1.           The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

This literature review presents a retrospective overview of the EAP.

Currently, employers express great concern for the well-being of their employees as this has impacted productivity. In this instance, EAPs are designed with the objective of supporting employees to solve problems and to create an environment in which managers and supervisors attempt to identify employees who are in need of assistance and referral for appropriate support and care. The ultimate goal is to maintain employee performance that is void of problems that could affect job satisfaction. EAPs are also designed to motivate employees to seek help before their personal problems reach chronic levels that may reduce their ability to perform their job well. EAPs help retain valued employees, restore productivity and enable them to lead meaningful and happy lives whilst they are in the workplace (Rajin, 2012:25).

The concept ‘EAP’ is widely used to identify services that address the employee problems in the workplace. EAPs are an employer-sponsored benefit consisting of diagnostic and referral services for employees and their families. They are defined in Newton, Hayday and Barkworth (2005:1) as worksite programmes intended to assist in the identification and resolution of employee concerns, which affect, or may affect work performance. The EAP is an intervention designed to provide professional services to employees whose job performance is affected negatively by work concerns

According to Mulligan (2007:68), an EAP is designed to assist workers in improving health and their effectiveness in managing various aspects of their personal lives. It provides a proactive tool in improving employee safety and retention programmes promoting “employee wellness” which are based on the principle that a healthy and happy employee is more productive and effective, a principle validated by substantial empirical research.


  1.           The Level of Awareness and Utilisation of the EAP Services Being Offered to Employees


In this section, the level of awareness and utilisation of the EAP services will be discussed.

According to Bell (2006:27), raising awareness of EAP services amongst the organisation’s staff is one of the biggest challenges today. Bell (2006:27) also indicates that an EAP can have all the cutting edge programmes, but this does not matter if no one knows about them. This simply means that if the employees do not know about the existence of the project, it may not be utilised adequately and thus its impact on the organisation might not be visible. The skills, confidence and capacity of the programme to address the needs and problems of the employees must be made visible to the employees and the organisation.

Csiernik (2003:31) states that utilisation assessment provides programmes with data concerning who is using what services and to what extent. The author indicates that addition of staff, outreach programmes, and an off-site location has been found to enhance the EAP utilisation rate. Christie (2003:43) states that a high utilisation rate of an EAP can be an indication of the programme’s success. However, lower utilisation, on the other hand, may cause companies to ask whether the programme is worth the costs. Weiss (2003:68) states that training supervisors on EAP will enhance staff utilisation of the programme since managers and supervisors will help in identifying and referring troubled employees to an EAP.

Dickman and Emener (2003:53) states that for an EAP to be effective, it needs constant marketing at all levels of the organisation. An EAP must communicate its availability to employees and their families, if covered, in order to function effectively. It is also important that employees know about the organisation’s EAP policies and understand what the programme can and cannot do for them. This can be done through marketing of the EAP services to ensure that employees utilise the services.


Marketing of an EAP occurs through various employee education forms such as posters, new employee induction and orientation sessions, information and workshop sessions with supervisors, union representatives and employee associations. Information about available services can be given through other departments, such as human resources and the health / medical divisions, which are in constant contact with employees (Mogorosi, 2009:349).

  1.           The Benefits of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to both the Employer and Employee


The organisational aim of implementing EAPs is to help employees deal or manage their problems which have a negative impact on their job performance. Employees benefit by getting assistance from their workplace which saves them time and money as the service is easily accessible and affordable. When the employees feel cared for as a person, it ensures a trusting environment and employees tend to feel more comfortable to ask and accept help without the fear of stigmatisation. This reduces the stigma attached to the troubled employee if both management and labour representative jointly communicate and demonstrate that to be “troubled is to be human” (Sridhar, undated: 4).

Serviceseta (2006:1) maintains that there are potential benefits of EAP to employees and the employers. The benefits to employees are: confidential advice and assistance, at no cost to themselves, with issues that affect their performance at work; less anxiety and stress at work; an understanding of their problems; personal growth and learning opportunities; improved health and lifestyle;  (depending on the problem); an improvement in work performance; better job security; the knowledge that the employer is willing to help find a solution to problems; and, increase in trust of management. The employers also benefit from the following: EAP offers practical solutions to several Human Resource (HR) problems; less absenteeism; higher productivity; better work performance; improved employer/employee relationship; more trust in management; employees feel more positive about the work environment; improvement in employee morale; a reduction in medical and other costs to employers; and, bottom line improvement.


Churchill (2007:1) reports that companies are taking a great interest in the well-being of their employees because when they do not report for work due to ill-health, production suffers and affects the company’s bottom line. South African companies are increasingly investing in the well-being of their employees to ensure that productivity is not hurt by absenteeism.

  1.           The Effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in Addressing Issues of Poor Performance

Organisations worldwide are moving towards a greater need for maximum employee productivity and effectiveness in a global economy where labour and skills shortages are a reality. In order to remain ahead of their competitors, organisations are realising the vital importance of the strategic value of worker recruitment and retention. In the workplace organisations are using the Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) together with other related programmes to enhance their overall Human Resources systems. Researchers suggest that the introduction of EAP’s and other services are not wholly enough to achieve all the above mentioned objectives. Like any other programme, if EAP’s are not implemented properly and are not continuously monitored and evaluated, it will become another money wasted initiative (Naicker and Fouché, 2003:25).

The success and survival of an organisation relies upon the fulfilment of its goals. Every organisation is concerned with being effective. There are however a number of variables that encroach upon the overall performance and success of an organisation. People resource and quality management are fundamental to the growth and performance of an organisation (Mullins, 2010:775).

An EAP plays an important role in reducing absenteeism, workplace accidents, grievances and other social ills within the work place. Effective implementation of an EAP is the strategic exercise in the development and retention of employees. The EAP is a cost effective way to promote productivity, increase morale and promote employee health and well-being.


According to Yende (2005:36), an EAP may be used as a strategic tool which is an essential business driver and may be used in the development and retention of staff, thus reducing absenteeism in workplaces. EAP is recognised as a valuable asset to business and industry in reducing absenteeism, workplace accidents, substance abuse and loss of productivity.

Dickman and Emener (2003:60) assert that, no-one advocates coddling, especially in the workplace. Sometime, however, a worker does not like to feel as if he/she is a dispensable tool. When employees have feelings like these, the morale tends to decrease, job satisfaction dwindles and quite often productivity suffers. In an environment where the management and the EAP cooperatively, trustingly and mutually work together, employees feel that others care about them as people.

According to Naicker (2002:1), organisations are faced with the challenge of achieving optimum productivity but not at the expense of placing damaging demands on their workforces. High demands are however unavoidable, but management forsee a real and important need to help their employees cope effectively with social, personal and professional problems confronting them. Management is slowly realising that a healthier workforce can help achieve optimum productivity, while decreasing the workload on managers, who no longer need to deal with a troubled workforce.

  1.           Potential Improvements to a more Effective Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

This section will give an outline of possible recommendations which could limit the drawbacks of an effective EAP implementation. There will be emphasis on providing innovative marketing strategies in promoting and maximising the visibility of the EAP. There should also be an evaluation of the programme to allow employees opportunities to submit suggestions, in-puts and give feedback regarding the programme and this will no doubt assist in the improvement and promotion of the programme.


Fensholt (2011:46) recommends that that the wellness initiatives that achieve the greatest success are the ones communicated on the most aggressive and sustained basis. Communicating a wellness programme effectively takes time, takes planning, takes effort, and corporate commitment in the long-term. Appropriate marketing and promotion of the programme will encourage utilisation of the services which ultimately impacts on the healthy functioning of the organisation.

Emener and Hutchison (2003:193) suggest that EAP professionals should conduct an assessment to identify employee or family member problems, develop a plan of action, and refer the individual(s) to an appropriate resource for problem resolution. Accurate assessment and referrals should result in improved job performance and employee well-being.

Fogarty (2010:46) states that the stigmatisation of EAPs may be attributed to the fact that these programmes are often seen as being associated with troubled employees and the final step before dismissal. Therefore, he recommends that in order to reduce the stigma attached to the EAP, it is critical to promote the EAP in the correct manner by focusing on the preventative nature of the programme.

  1.           Conclusion


This section has firstly presented an introduction to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Afterwards, some current knowledge about the research objectives for this study has been summarised. Thus, information about the level of awareness and knowledge, the benefits of the programme to both the employer and employees, the effectiveness of the EAP in addressing issues of poor performance and improvements to a more effective Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) has been obtained.




In this section, the research design and methodology which will be used for this research will be explained and validated.


9.1  Research Methodology


According to Sekaran and Bougie (2013:2), research is the process of finding solutions to a problem after a thorough study and analysis of the situational factors. Welman, Kruger and Mitchell (2005:2) indicate that research is a process that involves obtaining scientific knowledge by means of various objective methods and procedures.  According to Brynard and Hanekom (2006:36) research methodology focuses on the process of research and the decisions made by the researcher to successfully execute a study.

9.2   Research Design

According to McMillan and Schumacher (2006:22), the research design describes how the study was conducted. It summarises the procedures for conducting the study, including when, from whom and what conditions the data will be obtained. In other words, the research design indicates the general plan, how the research is set up, what happens to the subject and what methods of data collection are used.

Wisker (2009:20) emphasises that the choice of the research design is based on the researcher’s assumption, research skills and research practices that influences the way in which he or she collects the data. A research design can be defined as a plan or blueprint of how one intends to conduct the research. Selecting an appropriate design may be complicated by the availability of a variety of methods, techniques, procedures and sampling plans. Most research objectives can be achieved by using one of the five types of research designs, namely exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, correlational or casual research designs (McDaniel and Gates, 2014: 28).


Descriptive research will be the research design selected for this study due to the fact that there is little research conducted in the field of EAP within the Department of Social Development.  According to Sekaran and Bougie (2010:106), descriptive studies that present data in a meaningful form help researchers to (1) understand the characteristics of a group in a given situation, (2) think systematically about aspects in a given situation, (3) offer ideas for further probing and research, and/or (4) help make certain simple decisions.


9.3  The Research Philosophy


Welman, Kruger and Mitchell (2005: 6) state that there are two approaches to research, which are quantitative and qualitative.

According to Veal (2011: 356), qualitative research is typically used to answer questions about the complex nature of phenomena, with the purpose of describing and understanding the phenomena from the participant’s point of view. Qualitative methodology aims to provide an in-depth understanding into the problem and allows for triangulation of data. Qualitative research explores attitudes and behaviour in an attempt to obtain a considered opinion from participants. This is generally conducted through methods such as interviews or focus groups. Fewer people take part in the research although the contact with these people tends to last longer than with quantitative methods (Dawson, 2010:14).

In contrast quantitative research uses methods such as questionnaires or structured interviews to generate statistics. The research involves more people with shorter contact than with qualitative research (Dawson, 2010:15). Quantitative research is defined as research that is concerned with the systematic measurement, statistical analysis and methods of experimentation of things that can be counted (Fox and Bayat, 2007:7). A quantitative research approach will be employed to the study due to its capability to attain a large number of respondents in a short period of time.


Creswell (2009:175) purports that when using the quantitative approach, a researcher should concentrate on the quantitative facts or data associated with the problem and develop mathematical expressions that describe the objectives, constraints and other relationships.

9.4   Research Strategies

Research strategies can be defined as the general plan of how the researcher will set about the task of answering the research questions (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007:610).

Given the cost implication and the amount of work to be done in a limited period, a positivist (quantitative) approach will be selected utilising the survey method. According to Brannick and Roche (2007:11), the survey method is systematic as it uses information that is gathered from respondents via a questionnaire. Brannick and Roche (2007:11) further state that the survey method can be utilised to perform exploratory, descriptive and analytic investigations.

The survey method will be used because it is less costly and time consuming, and it allows participants to control the pace at which they respond without feeling rushed. Respondents are also more comfortable in answering sensitive questions since there is no interviewer involved. Self-administered questionnaires eliminate human error as there are no interviewers to make mistakes in asking questions or in recording responses. Bias is also prevented, where an interviewer tries to steer the respondents towards certain responses or deliberately records answers that are different from the actual response (Zikmund and Babin 2010: 168).


9.5  Target Population

A target population is a group of elements or cases which may be classified as individuals, objects or events that conform to specific criteria and to which the results of the research tend to be generalised (McMillan and Schmacher, 2006:119).


Wegner (2012:5) states that a population is the collection of all possible data values that exist for the random variable that is under study. The total population for the group under study is 125 employees from the various directorates and sub-directorates within the department.

9.6  Sampling Strategy


In most research cases it would be impossible, time consuming and expensive to conduct research on the whole population, and therefore sampling strategy offers a workable solution. Sampling is therefore an element of data collection, and is defined by Kumar (2011:93),  as the process of selecting a few from a bigger group (the population) to become the basis for estimating or predicting the occurrence of an unknown piece of information, situation or outcome regarding the bigger group.

Sampling is a procedure that draws conclusions about an entire population based on information gathered from only a portion of the population (Zikmund and Babin,  2010: 58). It involves selecting a small number of elements called a sample from the total population and expecting that the information gathered from this sample will allow judgements to be made about the entire population.

There are several probability sampling and non-probability sampling techniques available for the researcher to consider when planning and developing a research plan. According to Fox and Bayat (2007:54), probability sampling is used when every element of the population has a known and not ‘zero-chance’ of being included in the sample. When elements in the population have a known equal chance of being chosen as subjects in the sample, the probability sampling procedure is preferred (Sekaran and Bougie, 2010:270).

On the other hand, non-probability sampling is considered as a range of techniques where the probability of selection each sampling unit is not known and the selection of sampling units is done according to the researchers’ judgement or knowledge. It therefore follows a subjective approach, according to Cooper and Schindler (2006:455).


Non-probability sampling entails the researcher selecting those participants who know the most about the phenomenon. The approach is suitable when the researcher is not concerned with, or interested in, the typical experience of the population but is more concerned with understanding a special segment of the population or studying rare phenomena (Brink et al., 2012:139).

For this research, probability sampling method namely simple random sampling  will be used to select a group of participants to take part in the study. Kumar (2014:239) explains that simple random sampling is one of the three most commonly used types of sampling designs. In this design each element of the target population has an even chance of being chosen. This sampling design makes it possible to generalise the results from the sample back to the target population (Kumar, 2014:236). Also, according to Bless, Higson-Smith and Kagee (2006:103), the use of the sampling design enables the researcher to gain an advantage of increasing the availability of adequate lists and facilitating the selection of a sample without decreasing the quality. Therefore each element has an equal probability of being selected.

For the purposes of this study, the target population of 95 employees, from the various components within the department will be included in the investigation. According to Sekaran and Bougie (2010:295) a sample size between 92 and 97 is appropriate from a target population size ranging between 120 and 130.


9.7  Data Collection Instrument

Kothari (2004:95) explains that primary data refers to data that is collected afresh or for the first time, and thus happens to be original in character, while secondary

data is data that has already been collected by someone else and has already been passed through the statistical process.

The survey strategy with questionnaires can provide a description of the trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population after the data is collected and analysed statistically (Saunders et al., 2009:144; Creswell, 2009:145).


This information can be used to suggest possible reasons for relationships that may exist between variables. Questionnaires are popular methods for gathering primary research data due to their flexibility and it can be custom designed to meet the objects of any research project as highlighted by Sekaran (2006:236). It is an efficient data collection mechanism when the researcher knows exactly what is required and how to measure the variables of interest. Essentially, a survey strategy enables more control over the research process and it is possible to generate findings that are representative of the entire population at a lower cost.

The questionnaire will comprise of twenty questions. Nineteen of these will be structured closed-ended questions with the final question being unstructured and open-ended. According to (Burns and Bush 2013: 190), closed-ended questions are  more suitable for quantitative surveys, as it reduces the time, effort and amount of thinking required by respondents, and the results are easier to code for analysis. Bless, Higson-Smith and Sithole (2013: 118) define open-ended questions as questions that leave the participants completely free to express their answers as they wish, as detailed and complex, as long or as short as they feel appropriate.

The investigative questions will be in the form of rating questions. Cooper and Schindler (2006:339) posit that the Likert scale is the most popular rating scale due to its ease of construction and reliability and it provides a greater volume of data in comparison to the other scales. The Likert scale is a summated rating scale which is used to gain the opinion of participants by using interval data. In this type of scale measurement, the participants are required to express either a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards the object of interest.

According to Sekaran and Bougie (2010:212), the advantages of the questionnaire are that anonymity of the respondents is guaranteed and respondents can take more time to respond at their own convenience.


Two significant disadvantages of questionnaires are that there may be a low response rate and the researcher is not interacting with the respondent; therefore he or she does not have the opportunity to help the respondent understand the question or offer any guidance (Mitchell and Jolley, 2013:288).

The questionnaire will consist of five sections:

Section A:  Demographic information,

Section B:  Awareness and Utilisation of the Programme

Section C:  Benefits of the Programme, and

Section D:  Effectiveness of the Programme.

9.8   Pilot Study

According to Fox and Bayat (2007:102), a pilot study is a trial run of an investigation that is conducted on a small scale to determine whether the research design and methodology are relative and effective. This pre-test helps to determine whether a research instrument is adequately designed to capture the required data from the respondents.

Leedy and Ormrod (2010:111) observe that although the pilot study may take some time initially, it may ultimately save the researcher time by helping him/her to identify which approaches will and will not be effective in finding solutions to the overall research problem. Welman and Kruger (2003:191) state that a pilot study is essentially carried out to refine the questions so that there will be no problems in the interpretation of the questions during the actual empirical research undertaken.

For this research, a pilot test will be carried out with a sample of 5 respondents to comment on any questions that maybe ambiguous or unclear, and their comments will serve to amend the final questionnaire.


9.9  Data Analysis


This section will summarise how the data collected will be analysed.

Remenyi and Bannister (2012:118) state that the data analysis is the phase in the research process where the data collected is considered, processed and tested/assessed for meaning in terms of a hypothesis, proposition, theory or formulation of a new theory.  Sekaran and Bougie (2013: 24) concur that in the data analysis step, the data gathered are statistically analysed to see if the hypotheses that were generated have been supported.

The analysis of survey data can be structured into three distinctive stages, which include describing data, statistical inference and lastly, modelling and multivariate analysis (May, 2011: 122).  Asadoorian and Kantarelis (2005: 2) mention that inferential statistics allow the researcher to actually use probability techniques to review collected data, with the aim of understanding the whole target population’s perceptions and perspectives. For this research, both descriptive and inferential statistics will be carried out, including hypothesis testing, using a statistics package such as SPSS.

Kent (2007: 296) explains that descriptive statistics are the most efficient means of summarising the characteristics of large data sets. In addition, descriptive statistics describe the characteristics of a sample. A mean and standard deviation is calculated to describe the sample. The mean is the average most often used. Inferential statistics permit the researcher to infer from a sample to a large population and to estimate the parameters of the population (Leedy and Ormrod 2010:275, as sited in Brink et al., 2012:190).

The two most important aspects of precision in terms of questionnaire design are reliability and validity (Gaur and Gaur, 2009:31). Validity is defined by Welman, Kruger and Mitchell (2005:142), as the extent to which the research findings accurately represent what is really happening in the situation and reliability is computed by taking several measurements on the same subjects.


For this research, the validity of the data will be accessed as Gaur and Gaur (2009:32) propose, that is, through the following stages:

  • Content Validity which refers to the extent to which the measurement reflects the complete content of the particular construct that it is set out to measure.
  • Construct Validity has to do with how well the construct covered by the instrument is measured by the different groups of related items.
  • Criterion Validity is regarded as the ultimate test to ascertain whether an instrument measures that what it is supposed to measure.
  • Face Validity which refers to the ability of the questionnaire to measure what is intended to be measured.

Saunders et al. (2009:373) mention that in order for a questionnaire to be classified valid for a research study, it should be reliable. The reliability of a study’s measuring instrument refers to its ability to produce consistent results when the study is repeated. The purpose of good reliability is to investigate the accuracy and precision of the measurement procedure and minimise the errors and biases in the study (Yin, 2009:45). There are different types of reliability noted, some of these are:

  • Inter-rater or inter-coder, which is a measure of agreement. Different respondents are used but the same method or tool is administered (du Plooy-Cilliers, 2014:255)
  • Test-retest which is a measure of stability. The same respondents are used but the instrument is administered at different times (du Plooy-Cilliers, 2014:255).

Sekaran (2006:307) claim that Cronbach’s Alpha reliability analysis is commonly used to test the internal consistency of the measurement scale and it indicates how well the questions measure the concept. Thus, achieving a Cronbach’s Alpha value close to 1 indicates high reliability. The Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha test will be used to verify the reliability of the data collected in this study.



Mouton (2006:238) states that the ethics of science concerns what is wrong and what is right and that in the search for truth the researcher’s conduct must conform to the generally accepted norms and values. This section will give a summary in which the principles of integrity, respect and confidentiality are exemplified.


10.1 Ensuring participants have been given formal consent

A consent form is a key factor in achieving and satisfying ethical requirements. It is unethical to collect data without the knowledge of the subjects and their willingness and informed consent (Kumar 2005: 212). The respondents will be given a full description of the reason for the study with assurance of confidentiality and permission to abstain from participating.

10.2   Ensuring no harm comes to participants

According to De Vos (2002: 64), respondents can be harmed in a physical and/or emotional manner. It is therefore the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that this would not happen. The researcher will ensure that no harm comes to participants by not discussing information that would embarrass respondents or endanger their friendships, home lives, jobs, dignity, and so forth.


10.3   Ensuring confidentiality and anonymity

Anonymity is deeper than confidentiality in that it refers to safeguarding the respondent’s identification from even the researcher. Information or data that is gathered anonymously cannot be traced back to a particular respondent (O’ Leary 2004: 54). All participants will remain anonymous during the study. The information supplied will be confidential, and the names of respondents will not be published.


10.4 Ensuring that permission is obtained

Neuman (2006: 135) states that after respondents have given permission to participate in a study they need to know what they are being asked to participate in so that they can make an informed decision. Permission from potential respondents will be sought first before the questionnaire is emailed or faxed for completion.



This section gives a draft of the contents of each of the chapters of the dissertation

Chapter One introduces the topic and provides the background to the study. It states the research problem, aim of the study, objectives, research question and research problem.

Chapter Two is the Literature Review which will provide a critical analysis and evaluation of existing knowledge pertaining to each of the research problems that this research will seek to study.

Chapter Three highlights the research design, sampling, data collection method, and the type of data analysis utilised for this research, their strengths and weaknesses as well as their appropriateness for this study.

Chapter Four focuses on the interpretation of the results of the study based on the findings.

Chapter Five outlines the summary of the research process and gives conclusions drawn from the study as well as recommendations and the implications thereof.



Appendix A:  Draft of Covering Letter


Management College of South Africa

Date:  15 August 2017

Dear Participant

I am enrolled for a Master’s Degree at the Management College of South Africa. I am currently undertaking research into the Effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Programme within the UMgungundlovu Department of Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal.

Reports show that we are living in unsurpassed times, times in which changes such as increased competition, technological changes and globalisation have major effects on organisations and the well-being of the employees, as they bring forth conditions of overwork, stress, job dissatisfaction and accidents. It is inevitable that some form of therapeutic measure such as the implementation of an Employee Assistance Programme will assist employees to deal with such problems.

The enclosed questionnaire will gather data pertaining to this study and will give further insight and knowledge into the research problem.

Completion of the questionnaire would take about 15 minutes of your time to complete.  Participation in this study is voluntary and you are free to decline to participate or to withdraw from the research at any time. Kindly be assured that all the information gathered from the research will be used exclusively for the purpose of the study and will be treated with the level of confidentiality it deserves. There are no known or anticipated risks to participate in this study and your identity will be remain anonymous at all times.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in my research.

Yours sincerely

Sharmila Naidoo


Appendix B:  Draft Questionnaire


Section A:  Demographic Information

Please mark with an (x) or (√) in the box with the appropriate response. Mark one box only.

1.  Please specify your gender.

No. Gender Tick
1 Male
2 Female

2.  Please indicate your age category.

No. Age Category Tick
1 25 years to 34 years
2 35 years to 44 years
3 45 years to 54 years
4 55 years and older

3.  What is your highest educational qualification?

No. Qualification Type Tick
1 Lower than matriculation
2 Matriculation
3 Higher Certificate
4 Degree
5 Honours
6 Master’s
7 Other

4.  How long have you been employed with the Department?

No. Length of Service Tick
1 Less than 1 year
2 1 – 2 years
3 3 – 5 years
4 6 – 10 years
5 Longer than 10 years


 Section B:  Awareness and Utilisation of the Programme

Please put a cross (x) or tick (√) in the applicable box to rate your level of agreement or disagreement. Mark one box only.

No. Item Strongly Agree Agree Don’t Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
5 I am fully aware of the existence of the EAP in my Department
6 I have been properly work-shopped on the role and functions of the EAP in my department
7 The EAP is properly marketed and communicated to the employees (e.g. campaigns, posters,


8 The EAP has enhanced my knowledge on employee health and  wellbeing.
Section C:  Benefits of the of the Programme
No. Item Strongly Agree Agree Don’t Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
9 EAP has adequate staff to provide quality service
10 The decision for referral to EAP is purely in the employee’s interest
11 Employees have the perception that their problems can be handled professionally and confidentially by the EAP.
12 The use of services provided by the EAP can help improve employee health and increase worker performance



Section D:  Effectiveness of the of the Programme

Please put a cross (x) or tick (√) in the applicable box to rate your level of agreement or disagreement. Mark one box only.

No. Item Strongly Agree Agree Don’t Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
13 EAP identifies and recognises staff rendering an exceptional service
14 EAP identifies and take remedial action against staff that are not performing within a reasonable


15 Service excellence is pursued though EAP
16 The performance of the department increased due to EAP interventions offered by the department
17 Managers do not worry about EAP implementation because they do not see any impact they are making on employee performance
18 There is no return on investment after employees have been referred to the EAP
19 Stigma prevents employees from seeking counselling and assistance
20 Please suggest recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the Employee

Assistance Programme in addressing issues of poor performance

Thank you for your time and co-operation


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