Theses Doctoral

Helping Troubled Employees: An Analysis of Selected Employee Assistance Programs Under Management Auspices

Straussner, Shulamith Lala Ashenberg

This dissertation aims to expand present state of knowledge regarding employee assistance programs (EAPs). The first phase of study consisted of identification of the universe of EAPs operational by June, 1982 in the New York City Metropolitan Area utilizing a typology comprised of program auspice (management or union); program sponsorship (individual or consortium); program model (in-house or contractual); and sector (public or private) of the company with EAP.

A total of 125 EAPs were found in an area with over five and one-half million employees. Thus, despite their growth, EAPs are available to only a miniscule portion of the workforce.

The second phase of study analyzed 23 private sector EAPs under management auspices selected on the basis of non-probability quota sampling technique stratified according to program model (in house or contractual), type of industry (finance/insurance; manufacturing; or service), and size of company (small; medium; large). Sixty seven respondents were interviewed utilizing structured and open-ended instrument examining over 200 variables.

The study examined the current nature of these EAPs; ascertained the changes they experienced since inception; examined characteristics of program users; explored similarities and differences between in-house and contractual EAPs; examined their linkages with community; and explored the roles and perceived value of social workers in these programs.

Data analysis revealed an increasing standardization with broad brush EAPs staffed by professional counselors becoming the norm. Comparative analysis of in-house and contractual EAPs found that in-house programs tend to reach employees with alcohol problems, males and minority workers. In contrast, contracted-out EAPs are used more by women, higher level white workers, and those with mental health and family problems--population resembling traditional users of community mental health and family agencies.

Overall, the EAPs were utilized by 4.4% of workforce, at an average cost of $14.7 per eligible employee per year. They tended to maintain an unilateral linkage with community based agencies and referred out a high proportion of employees.

Implications of these findings to program development, social policy and social work progression are discussed.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Kamerman, Sheila B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 4, 2015