Life circumstances, personal issues or conflicts at work can affect an employee’s emotional state and have a negative impact on performance. When an otherwise valuable employee starts to behave inconsistently or fall short of expectations, supervisors can use basic employee counseling techniques to resolve the issue without the need for disciplinary action.
If an employee’s behavior and performance suddenly change for the worse, counseling may help the employee and correct the problem. An employee, who becomes easily annoyed with coworkers, seems exhausted or cannot pay attention may be suffering from personal problems outside work. Employees who drink too much alcohol or have some other kind of substance abuse issue may require counseling, as well as employees caught up in personality conflicts with each other.
Employee counselling is a psychological health care intervention which can take many forms. Its aim is to assist both the employer and employee by intervening with an active problem-solving approach to tackling the problems at hand.
Employee counselling can do much to prevent the negative effects of stress at an individual level and ultimately at an organizational level. It gives individuals a valuable opportunity to work through problems and stresses in a strictly confidential and supportive atmosphere.
Counselling provides access to several basic forms of helping: giving information, direct action, teaching and coaching, advocacy, and providing feedback and advice.
Counselling is: The process that occurs when a client and counsellor set aside time in order to explore difficulties which may include the stressful or emotional feelings of the client; the act of helping the client to see things more clearly, possibly from a different view-point. This can enable the client to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour, with a goal to facilitating positive change; a relationship of trust since Confidentiality is paramount to successful counselling. Professional counsellors will usually explain their policy on confidentiality, they may, however, be required by law to disclose information if they believe that there is a risk to life.
Counselling is Not: Giving advice; Judgmental; Attempting to sort out the problems of the client; Expecting or encouraging a client to behave in a way in which the counsellor may have behaved when confronted with a similar problem in their own life; Getting emotionally involved with the client or Looking at a client’s problems from your own perspective, based on your own value system.
Typically, counselling involves the individual employee meeting with a psychological adviser, usually on a one-on-one basis. It is not uncommon for the individual employee and counsellor to meet once or twice a week for several weeks. However, the number and frequency of meetings required will depend upon the nature of the perceived difficulty and the nature of the intervention needed. The focus of counselling sessions is to encourage discussion of personal and work-related difficulties. This is often followed by the adoption of an active problem-solving approach to tackle the problems at hand.
The specific aims of employee counselling are to:
- Explore and find the key sources of difficulty;
- Review the individual’s current strategies and styles of coping;
- Implement methods of dealing with the perceived problem, thereby alleviating the issue; and
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen strategies.
The Role of the Counsellor
The role of the counsellor is to enable the client to explore many aspects of their life and feelings, by talking openly and freely. It is important that the counsellor is not emotionally involved with the client and does not become so during counselling sessions. The counsellor neither judges, nor offers advice. The counsellor gives the client an opportunity to express difficult feelings such as anger, resentment, guilt and fear in a confidential environment.
Generally, the role of the counsellor is to support the client in the following ways:
- Listening to client;
- identify the stage the client is at;
- Be able to move the client into the next stage;
- Helping the client;
- Understanding the choices that need to be made;
- Considering the options available;
- Helping the client to make her own decision hence empowering the client;
- Observing confidentiality; and
- Developing trust in the client.
The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable the client to make their own choices, reach their own decisions and to act upon them accordingly.
Benefits of Counselling
The benefits of counselling to an employee include:
- Helping them to understand and help themselves;
- Assist them to understand the situations and look at them with a new perspective and positive outlook;
- Help in making better decisions;
- Enable them to explore alternate solutions to problems; and
- Help them cope with the situation and the stress.
The benefits to the organization are:
- Decrease in costs related to turnover, burnouts, absenteeism and accident-related disability;
- Improvement in employee performance & therefore increase in productivity; and
- Help in managing behavioral Problems brought about by organizational changes.