VAC Faculty Share Their Passion for the Intersection of Social Work and Business

In the Social Work and Business concentration, students can choose to explore and seek a career in the current expansion of innovative employee and organizational services, including EAPs, wellness, cultural diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and other interventions aimed at creating organizational well being. Our VAC faculty has served as frontrunners working at this creative and meaningful intersection of social work and business. Read more about the passion that drove their careers below.

Beverly Younger asked professionals who are affiliated with the Virtual Academic Center to share the passions that brought them to work at the intersection of social work and business.

Harry Hunter, Jr., PhD, MBA, MSW, USC School of Social Work VAC Lecturer

My professional interests and expertise cover a wide variety of workplace issues including job satisfaction, employee motivation and performance, leadership development, stress, team building, 360 feedback, work/life balance and mental health prevention strategies. The Field of occupational Social Work has enabled me to help develop professionals, improve performance, and facilitate change within large, complex organizational settings.

Mark Spratt, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Human Capital, USC School of Social Work VAC
Guest Lecturer

Social workers who understand the interconnections of these dimensions within business will likely be in the best position to support the business needs in the decade ahead — those needs will be shaped by global growth, innovation and risk management. Emerging markets are becoming the world’s leading growth markets — for consumers and access to skilled talent — and many organizations aren’t prepared for the workforce challenges of this new world.

Events of the past few years have brought sweeping changes and the new challenges for social workers in business. At the top of the list: globalization, HR innovation, an aging workforce, Generation Y, evolving technology, intense regulatory environments and the reality of distributed work in the cloud. The social work implications of these business changes are profound. Talent, leadership, world-class HR services and business driven HR are all fundamental areas for social workers to practice.

Jan Reisch, LCSW, CADC, CEAP, Substance Abuse Professional, USC School of Social Work VAC Lecturer

With a background in business and an MSW in occupational social work, I am always aware that there are two clients who walk in my door — the EAP client company and the individual EAP client. Coming from that perspective allows me to best serve both clients while working with the individual EAP client, looking at the whole person.

Larry Wenger, MSW, Workforce Performance Group, USC School of Social Work VAC Lecturer,
Author of the forthcoming book: Employee Centered Management….The Coming Revolution in Social Services

During the last 8-10 years, the for-profit business community has spent a lot of money to develop new approaches to manage people —approaches that allow employees to feel engaged, successful and challenged by their work. Why did communities do this? Because along the way it became clear that when employees were satisfied and engaged, the business performed better: more productivity, greater efficiency and a stronger bottom line. Now it is time for social work agencies to follow the same path and focus more on meeting the needs of employees.

We can no longer afford to deploy all of our resources toward the needs of clients and hope that we can get by on the dedication of our staff. Social work agencies must also become more satisfying places to work. Why? Because, like our friends in the for-profit business community, we will find that it more than pays for itself. In other words, when social workers feel more engaged and successful on the job, the services to our clients will be even better and our agencies can step back from the edge of bankruptcy and become truly sustainable.

Terri Lee, LCSW, CEAP, Clinical Associate Professor, USC School of Social Work VAC Field Faculty Advisor

I have found this work to be immensely rewarding. When organizations invest in the necessary tools to make the workplace more humane, everybody wins. I have found that organizations generally want to assist employees but don’t know how to go about it. Social workers can fill this knowledge and skill gap.

Rick Kronberg, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services, Perspectives Ltd, USC School of Social Work VAC Lecturer

With my background and training in systems theory, I found the employee assistance field to provide a multi-level, multifaceted approach to solving problems for individuals and organizations. Needing to develop and use skills in counseling, consulting, coaching and training is challenging and exciting.

Bernie McCann, PhD, CEAP, Workplace Mental Health Consultant & Researcher, USC School of Social Work VAC Guest Lecturer

Today for many, work and occupation have not only an economic impact, but also great mental health and social significance. Secure and safe working conditions, opportunities for advancement, and career satisfaction have become increasingly more important. Those attending to the human and social needs of the workplace can help insure both healthier individuals and worksites, all functioning at their full potential.

These activities, which range from efforts with individuals like counseling and coaching for job performance, to consulting with managers, building work team dynamics, and integrating with employee wellness initiatives can support work organizations in re-engineering their structure and methods to improve efficiency, creativity, productivity, increase mental health among workers, and ultimately improve the fit between the needs of workers and their families, work organizations and their communities.

The opportunities for innovative program development and interventions with employees, managers, labor union members, and their families are boundless. In the future our global economy will continue to challenge us to meet the social welfare needs of the workplace functional community

Visit our last blog post to read how Beverly Younger, found her passion for Social Work & Business in a Global Society!