Guide to workplace counselling

Depressed businessman

Workplace counselling can come in many forms and can be a vital resource for your employees and yourself.

Every year, around 13.4 million days of work are lost as people take sick days because of work-related stress.

However, it’s not just the days off that can affect your office – evidence also shows that productivity is reduced when people at work are stressed or suffering from mental health problems. This costs businesses around £15.1 billion a year – almost twice the estimated annual cost of people taking time off (£8.4 billion).

With the World Health Organisation estimating that at least 3 employees in 10 suffer from mental health problems, isn’t it time you looked at workplace counselling?

The role of workplace counsellors
Workplace counsellors are not expected to be full time counsellors, often providing employees with access to around 2 to 6 sessions over a set time period. After these sessions, if more support is required the employee can be referred to alternative resources.

The role of the counsellor can be proactive as well as reactive. They should consider routine stress audits.

A counsellor could be part-time, part of your current staff or you could arrange referrals through a local GP. Employees can choose to contact a counsellor themselves, allowing them total anonymity. Or, they could be referred to a counsellor by a line manager.  Again, what is said between the employee and counsellor is anonymous but the fact that they have been referred will obviously be known by the referee.

Stress management
Stress is one of the main issues a workplace counsellor will deal with. Employers have a legal duty to managing their employees’ stress. The Health and Safety Executive can provide information on dealing with workplace stress, but having a counsellor to talk to can be of great help as a release valve.

Personal counsellor
Sometimes factors from outside of work are affecting employees’ working life. This could be related to stress, bullying and harassment, depression, alcohol or drug abuse. If these are becoming issues, you could call in an outside expert on the specific problem.

psychiatrist examining a male patient

However, if the issues are related to drugs and/or alcohol, employees could face being dismissed if they don’t seek help. To avoid this, try and keep an eye out and recommend counselling to anyone who might be in trouble.

Line managers
Your counsellor doesn’t need to be called one. A line manager can take up this role, with the right training. They can do this by promoting participation, delegation, constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching and by providing employees with the right training and support they need to develop their performance and job satisfaction.

They should also be aware of how various management styles and practices can promote mental wellbeing and keep stress to a minimum.


Posted by The Secret Businessman