A caring employer will have regard for the well-being of his/her employees as well as their health and safety. Few if any individual is entirely free of an issue, or issues, which impact either physically or mentally, or both to a greater of lesser degree, upon them. Such issues may have negative effects upon the ability to work effectively. This may affect efficiency and perhaps the ability to relate well with work colleagues. Timely intervention by way of counselling may be of great advantage to both the employee and the employer.
Confidentiality is paramount for counselling to be successful. This can be achieved in:
Where business establishments have a suitable room, i.e. where clients can enter and leave unobtrusively, sessions can be conducted at the workplace. Given this is not possible, clients can visit my office in Cookley or Birmingham.
If distance and time is a problem counselling sessions can be conducted via telephone (preferably via Skype –with or without a video link – which in encrypted ensuring confidentiality).
As with telephone counselling email counselling enables client and counsellor to communicate over any distance and, as it is asynchronous, clients can submit their messages at whatever time they wish and receive a response within 72 hours. Messages are exchanged via Hushmail (a free service) which is an encrypted email service ensuring confidentiality.
The benefits of counselling provision
Research suggests a positive correlation between the provision of counselling and net workplace benefits (McLeod, 2001). Analysis of counselling at work and its associated activities has found a range of additional benefits, including:
Organisations that ignore the welfare of employees will suffer reduced productivity
‘Eighteen percent of employees are affected by personal problems on the job – these personal problems can decrease their productivity by 25 per cent.’ (McLeod 2001)
Counselling support can have a significant positive impact on sickness absence
Counselling interventions have been found, in the majority of studies that have examined this factor, to reduce sickness absence rates in clients by 25-50 per cent.
Over a quarter of employee difficulties and problems were work related
‘Twenty-eight per cent of problems identified by clients were work related. Of these, 62 per cent referred to difficulties in relationships at work.’ (Firth & Shapiro, 1986)
Counselling can have a dramatic impact on positive work effectiveness
Counselling contributed to ‘significant improvements on most attitude-to-work factors: opportunity for control, skill use, job demand, clarity, feeling valued, interpersonal contact, competence, work spill-over, adequacy of pay and job satisfaction.’ (Firth-Cozens & Hardy, 1992)
An internal counselling service can save the organisation money
In an evaluation by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), Cooper et al (1990) found that the counselling service saved the Post Office £120,000 over six months.
Confidential counselling services for employees may reduce the risk of litigation
An organisation that provides ‘confidential help to employees who fear that they may be suffering from harmful levels of stress is unlikely to be found in breach of duty.’ (Sutherland & Hatton, 2002)
Whilst a fundamental aspect of counselling is confidentiality there are some circumstances where a disclosure may be necessary.
Circumstances where a disclosure may be made include:
- Where there is a risk of harm to self or others
- Where there is a serious alleged crime
- Where there is a legal requirement (eg protection of children or prevention of terrorism)
- Where there is significant threat to the health and safety of those within the organisation
The key principles are that employees should be able to seek psychological support in confidence (eg to attend at a location that is confidential), that appropriate disclosures to line managers about what is discussed should be prevented.
Notes of any consultations will be kept secure and will not be disclosed to anyone else.
It is imperative that clients enter into counselling voluntarily.
A client CO: How can I thank you for your kindness, support and understanding? I don’t think I would be at the point I am now without it.’
A client MD: ‘From a low personal ebb to a higher plain, you have helped me get things back into perspective. I value your innovative thinking, the depth and quality of your understanding, your consummate interpersonal skills and the robustness of your challenge. You have the gift of inspiring trust and delivering excellence with total professionalism and complete integrity. Thank you’.