Contemporary Occupational Health Psychology: Global Perspectives on Research and Practice

By Jonathan Houdmont; Stavroula Leka | Go to book overview

9
Peer Assistance Programs
in the Workplace:
Social Support Theory and the Provision
of Effective Assistance to Employees in Need

Maya Golan Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

Yael Bacharach Cornell University

Peter Bamberger Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

Peer assistance programs (PAPs), also known as member assistance programs (MAPs), are voluntary, peer-based frameworks that motivate employees experiencing personal problems to seek help, facilitate the process of help-seeking, and, in some cases, directly provide support and assistance to those employees (Bacharach, Bamberger, & Sonnenstuhl, 1996). While their roots stretch back over a century, contemporary PAPs emerged in American workplaces as a union-based response to employee assistance programs (EAPs)—management-based frameworks for helping employees in need (Bacharach, Bamberger, & Sonnenstuhl, 2001; French, Dunlap, Roman, & Steele, 1997; Hartwell et al., 1996; Hayghe, 1991; Trice & Beyer, 1978). Recently, such programs have begun to attract the attention of managers and unions outside of the USA (Berridge, Cooper, & Highley-Marchington, 1997; Buon, 2006; Buon & Taylor, 2008; Kirk, 2005).

In this chapter, we seek to provide an overview of the historical development of PAPs and their core technology, and examine how such programs have been adapted for implementation in organizations outside of the USA. After reviewing the history of PAPs and the theoretical frameworks upon which they are based, we will draw from an Israeli experience in applying this technology in two organizations to: (a) identify the program parameters likely to require cultural fitting, (b) review practical methods for training and guiding the peer counselors who operate such programs, and (c) highlight significant program outcomes and key factors likely to determine program success.

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