Schomer's stress expertise for employee programme

12 May 2003
Stress may be with us all the time in the workplace but it erodes the employee's immune system and in the long run even a company's profitability, says senior lecturer Dr Helgo Schomer from the psychology department.

Schomer, whose work in the field spans wellness in healthcare professionals (who are particularly prone to burnout, especially in the face of HIV/AIDS), as well as sports psychology, features among top professionals whose knowledge and experience have been harnessed to produce an employee assistance programme toolkit for the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

The toolkit comprises five modules available to managers on CD, with an accompanying booklet. Schomer wrote and compiled the Managing Stress in the Workplace module after a SETA representative heard him speak at their annual congress in October last year.

Other modules deal with:
  • Addiction - substance abuse in the workplace
  • HIV/AIDS in the workplace
  • Disability in the workplace
  • Loss and trauma in the workplace.
"Most employers are faced with the effects of trauma on their employees; rape, high jacking, death as a result of AIDS and alcohol abuse. How do managers cope? As most small to medium companies can't afford to send their employees to conferences, EAP programmes like this represent a valuable and accessible way of getting this knowledge into industry and ensuring the wellbeing of employees."

The SETA toolkit provides a simple yet comprehensive set of guidelines allowing managers to manage the wellbeing of their human assets.

The toolkit offers ideas for reducing stress in the workplace and makes useful suggestions to help management create a less stressful, or more caring work environment.

"A key concept in stress management is the balance between work and leisure and finding time for yourself, even a half hour a day," he added. "Whatever the cause of stress, it is possible to make changes in your life."

Last word goes to Ivor Blumenthal, Services SETA's chief executive officer: "Given the daunting prospects facing South Africa, effective EAP programmes are no longer corporate value added service. They are a necessity if the economy is to survive, grow and become globally competitive." (See the website

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