Article by : Prof. Nitu Singhi, Assistant Professor, Calcutta Business School, Kolkata
Counselling at workplace is a way of the organization to care about its employees. Counselling helps the employee to share and look at his problems from a new perspective, help himself and to face and deal with the problems in a better way. In today's fast-paced corporate world, there is virtually no organization free of stress or stress-free employees. Apart from their personal problems, there are various reasons which can create stress for the employees at the workplace like unrealistic targets or work-load, constant pressure to meet the deadlines, career problems, responsibility and accountability, conflicts or bad inter-personal relations with superiors and subordinates, problems in adjusting to the organizational culture.
Generally, in any organization an average of about 10% of the employees are incapacitated by acute or chronic personal problems such as family and marital problems, financial difficulties, legal problems, drug and alcohol abuse, emotional upsets or career problems. All these will affect work performance. Studies also show that employees have three times as many accidents, four times the rate of absenteeism, make more health insurance claims and more likely to make mistakes at their work and take more sick leave, under such circumstances. All in all, this will add on to the loss of work time and productivity for the organization.
Organizations, therefore have realized the importance of having a stress-free yet motivated and capable workforce. Many companies have integrated the counseling services in their organizations and making it a part of their culture. Employee counseling can be explained as providing help and support to the employees to face and sail through the difficult times in life. Counseling is guiding, consoling, advising and sharing and helping to resolve their problems whenever the need arises.
A systematic study by McLeod (2010) showed that workplace counselling interventions have been found to reduce sickness absence rates in organizations by as much as 50%. This fact alone demonstrates the cost-effective nature of counselling, and the positive impact it can have on an organization’s productivity.
Technically, Workplace Counselling may focus on work performance but its emphasis is more on a problem solving approach, which is concerned with the discussion and analysis of problems and issues that affect an employee’s work performance in an attempt to find solutions.
Recently counselling is seen by the HR managers as a way of enhancing mental as well as emotional health of the employees in the organization. Counselling is meant to enable people to do as the world changes around them and improves the morale of the workforce because it shows concern for staff. More tangibly it enables employers to gain from their staff’s hidden talents and interests.
The HR managers have understood that counselling enhances the loyalty of the employees as they feel they are cared and listened to in a supportive environment which ultimately results in their commitment to organizational goals and job performance. Hence including counselling as one of the HR practices will helps in regaining the self-esteem and motivation of the employees, reduces the levels of workplace conflict, stress and moreover, workplace miscommunication. Counselling involves not only a good talking but thinking, understanding human nature and having compassion and kindness on the part of the manager for his problem worker.
Employers are turning to counselling as one way of helping to manage the mammoth changes taking place in organizations. Change is never easy: it disrupts, disorientates, causes grievances, and takes time. Support is needed for employees and teams as transition in organizations are managed. Employees do not leave their problems aside as they turn to face their working day. Eventually the organization will face financial costs of psychological and social problems. Counselling helps employees to deal with a variety of problems and if left unattended may and do affect performance in the working environment, a variety of which may lead to employee termination. If they successfully practice it they can cut down on costs associated with recruitment and training.
More and more organizations are becoming aware that existing employees are truly their best assets and acknowledge the fact many employees seek to understand their personal characteristics, strengths and weaknesses which would help them meet and satisfy their future development needs that would satisfy their short and long term financial objectives. Employee counselling therefore is a very powerful tool in the hands of companies in attracting and retaining quality workforce.
“It’s better to take care of your employees in order to take care of your business.”
• Mcloed, J & Henderson. M. (2003). Does workplace counseling work? Retrieved from, Does workplace counselling work? Eisenberg and Delaney. Retrived from, http://www.citehr.com/26074-employee-counselling overview.html.
•McLeod J (2010). “Counselling in the workplace: the facts. A systematic study of the research evidence”. BACP.
• Pranati Raheja ,Employee Counselling – An overview
•Peter Tong Hing Tham (1998).Employee counselling programme in Malaysian workplace