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Employee Counselling – An overview

Pranati Raheja

What is Counselling?

Counselling is a process through which one person helps another by purposeful conversation in an understanding atmosphere. It seeks to establish a helping relationship in which the one counseled can express their thoughts and feelings in such a way as to clarify their own situation, come to terms with some new experience, see their difficulty more objectively, and so face their problem with less anxiety and tension. Its basic purpose is to assist the individual to make their own decision from among the choices available to them. (British Association for Counselling, Rugby 1989)

Counselling is discussion of an employee’s problem that usually has an emotional content to it, in order to help the employee cope with the situation better. Counselling seeks to improve employee’s mental health. People feel comfortable about themselves and about other people and are able to meet the demands of life when they are in good mental health.

Why is Counselling Needed?

"HR initiatives only look at the organizational perspective, but the well being of the workforce depends just as much on the individual's well being. And stress, from home or from the routine of work affects not just the individual, but the workplace in turn," says Dr Samir Parikh, consultant psychiatrist at Max Healthcare

What are the objectives of Counselling?

According to Eisenberg & Delaney, the aims of Counselling are as follows:

1. Understanding self

2. Making impersonal decisions

3. Setting achievable goals which enhance growth

4. Planning in the present to bring about desired future

5. Effective solutions to personal and interpersonal problems.

6. Coping with difficult situations

7. Controlling self defeating emotions

8. Acquiring effective transaction skills.

9. Acquiring 'positive self-regard' and a sense of optimism about one's own ability to satisfy one's basic needs.

When to counsel?

An employee should be counseled when he or she has personal problems that affect job performance. Some signs of a troubled employee include

• Sudden change of behavior

• Preoccupation

• Irritability

• Increased accidents

• Increased fatigue

• Excessive drinking

• Reduced production

• Waste

• Difficulty in absorbing training

What are the traits of a good counsellor?

The set of attitudes required for an efficient counsellor are:

• Respect i.e. High esteem for human dignity, recognition of a person's freedom & rights and faith in human potential to grow.

• Sincerity, authenticity.

• Understanding

• Non-judgmental approach towards the counselee.

The set of skills required for an efficient counsellor are:

• Decency skills i.e. social etiquettes, warm manners

• Excellent communication skills which also include non-verbal communication and listening skills

• Objectivity

• Maintaining confidentiality

• Empathy

What’s the process of counselling?

Types of counseling processes are Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Therapy; Carl Roger’s Client Centered Therapy; Carkhuff Model of Personal Counselling; Gestalt approach to counselling; Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy by Albert Ellis.

The Counseling Process

Step 1. Describe the changed behavior. Let the employee know that the organization is concerned with work performance. The supervisor maintains work standards by being consistent in dealing with troubled employees. Explain in very specific terms what the employee needs to do in order to perform up to the organization's expectations. Don't moralize. Restrict the confrontation to job performance.

Step 2. Get employee comments on the changed behavior and the reason for it. Confine any negative comments to the employee's job performance. Don't diagnose; you are not an expert. Listen and protect confidentiality.

Step 3. Agree on a solution. Emphasize confidentiality. Don't be swayed or misled by emotional please, sympathy tactics, or "hard-luck" stories. Explain that going for help does not exclude the employee from standard disciplinary procedures and that it does not open the door for special privileges.

Step 4. Summarize and get a commitment to change. Seek commitment from the employee to meet work standards and to get help, if necessary, with the problem.

Step 5. Follow up. Once the problem is resolved and a productive relationship is established, follow up is needed.

What is the situation in India?

According to a recent study done in India – the study was done in a manufacturing company in Mumbai

• Majority of the employees of the company (61% of the sample) were unaware of the concept of Employee Counselling. Those employees who had a partially correct idea (25 % of the sample) about employee counseling knew that it was related to helping an employee in distress, advising, creating self-awareness and personality development. The remaining 14 % had an incorrect understanding about the concept.

• After the researcher had explained what employee counselling was all about, 69 % of the sample agreed that there was a (perceived) need for employee counseling in the company. The reasons were many, most common ones being to assist employees solve their personal and/or work related problems and to improve the employee relationships and overall culture of the workplace. Among the 31 % who were of the viewpoint that employee counseling as an institutionalized process was not needed in the company, 57 % of this group felt that the company had a family culture and the informal relationships between the employees could be leveraged upon.

• Only 22 % of the sample disagreed on the importance of employee counseling as a part of HR –systems while 78 % of the employees felt that counseling is an important HR function.

• 83 % of the employees were unaware of the companies practicing Employee Counselling in India (this could also be because the sample was a mix of managerial employees, staff level and workers)

The research results indicate that majority of the sample under study responded positively to the hypothesis i.e. a need for Employee Counselling was felt and that it would benefit the organization. However, the awareness about the concept of counselling and employee counselling, particularly so was found to be exceptionally low.

Why is it not frequently used?

Right from getting top management approvals and budgetary sanctions to getting trained counselors on the rolls or on part time basis all are equally challenging. Preparing the employees for counselling is another yet important areas. One of the biggest fears that prevent employees from using the services of a counselor is the social and professional stigma attached to counselling.

From India, Mumbai
Hi Pranathi,
A very interesting and a very educative article. I am very much interested in employee counselling. I need few information regarding this like is there any training need for this, can we take employee counselling only as career. Can anybody provide me with the information or the link where I can find these information. :?:

xlri has a short term program on managerial counselling...about taking it fulltime i guess u need to major in psychology. in india d trend has still not caught on but its a good career choice n there will opportunity in years to come...
From India, Mumbai
Dear pranati,
I have completed my MMS (Master of Management studies) in Human Resources from Mumbai university and bachelor of Commerce from the same university . Currently i am working with IDBI Intech Ltd. as trainee HR. I read your article and found it very helpful to clear my thoughts regarding the concept of employee counseling.
I would be very thankful if you provide me some more guidance considering above mentioned information. Also i would prefer the distance learning or part time courses (within Mumbai).
Thanks & regards,
Santosh Patil

From India, Mumbai
Hi Pranathi, I found the information useful & used it to make a simple ppt which I have duly posted in the forum. Cheers!!
From India, Cuttack
Following has been discussed in the meeting held Mr. XYZ…………. Points Discuss as below:

1. Recruitment: - We have discussed with understanding of the role quality of HR plays for an organization where I provided a brief overview of my ability to match your specific needs based on the position.

2. Employee retention and engagement: - we discussed how to motivating and convincing is related to brand building, satisfaction for our staff.

3. Training & Development: - how to implement training, co-ordinate in identifying the training needs across level through mapping of the skills required for particular positions.

4. Performance Appraisal system :- 360 degree appraisal system and what roll can play balance score card for employee appraisal system and what sort of points should be keep in mind while appraising any staff.

5. Strategic Thinking: - Dealing with ideas at an abstract level and roll must be there.

6. Team Work:-If team gets estranged than how to overcome with same Co-ordination within a team, sensitive response, develops rapport & trust, solicits interpersonal feedback.

7. Three Strengths and Three weakness:- Replied my family, management skills and hardworking person. As far as my weakness concern I think my communication skill, maturity level could be more stronger and I am constantly working to improve it.

8. Qualifications:- Details information about my qualification and pervious company experience etc.

9. Family Background:- Details about family and their profession.

10. Contacts:- With govt. Department, related some visa work done if delayed than why and when can be done.

11. Stress Management:- with systematically manage a team and task gets done.

12. Hearing and listening:- What we should do and why.

13. Politics:-Discussion about India politics for view.

Finally we discussed about salary.

Can you help me the purpose of asking you to write the gist of talks was to know (i) what you understood from the discussion and and how good your are in communicating and articulating



From India, Delhi
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