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A Primer on Workplace Counselling

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Introduction EAP Concepts Why Workplace Counselling? Organization Impact on Counselling Counselling Impact on Organization EAP and Top Management Implementation of Workplace Counselling Appendix Acknowledgment and Reference Page No. 2 3 7 8 10 11 13 16 19


A Primer on Workplace Counselling


Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION Employees spend about one-quarter of their lives in work settings. For many, key relationships are part of their work and personal identity is often bound up with jobs. There is an osmotic link between two compartments: professional life and personal life. Healthy happenings at professional life are cherished at the personal life and vice versa. So also, emotional drain experienced at professional life is felt at the personal life and vice versa. In short, there will be osmotic leakage from one compartment to another because both originate from the same human being! Emotion and workplace Workplace is no place for sentiments and emotions, proclaims Mr. Arun, a young high profile marketing manager, during a department meeting. But two days later, jumps from his seat with joy and says, Today we have made it. Finally we got the breakthrough after 3 months of hard work. We got the order. I am celebrating this achievement with a dinner with my wife in the choicest restaurant. Did not Mr. Arun show his emotions at workplace? The workplace teems with feelings. We ignore them at our peril; not to recognize their force and their worth is to underestimate a valuable source of energy and a powerful force for either destruction or growth. Some believe emotions are irrelevant to the workplace and portray the ideal as an emotionless arena ruled by rationality. Do we agree that emotions are part of the inner wiring of workday routines? The truth is people at work are happy, sad, depressed, excited, enthusiastic, lustful, vengeful, resentful, bored, playful, worried, anxious, hurt, hopeful, furious, isolated, frightened these emotions course through their veins. Those feelings have vast influence on their work, their work relationships, their motivation and morale. Managers are all too aware of how powerful feelings can be and indeed how difficult they are to mange.


A Primer on Workplace Counselling Chapter 2 EAP CONCEPTS EAP Employee Assistance Programme EAP definition: EAPs are job based programs operating within an organization for the purpose of identifying troubled employees, motivating them to resolve their troubles and providing access to counselling or treatment for those employees who need such services. On a larger canvas, EAP while working with troubled individuals would work also with the organization and management to prevent employees reaching the stage of needing individual care. Workplace needs that give rise to EAP are four fold: To do more about problems in the workplace Realization that workplace is both a human problem breeder and a problem resolver To humanize the workplace To develop new work practices based on the awareness that areas are inter-related in the workplace, i.e. health, wholeness, work, relationships, etc. Workplace counselling can be deemed to be any activity in the workplace where one individual uses a set of techniques or skills to help another individual take responsibility for and to manage their own decision-making whether it is work related or personal. Triadic relationship In private practice the individual counselling is a dyadic relationship. Counselling in organizations is triadic link among employee, counsellor and organization in a three way relationship. Traditional and contemporary EAPs Traditional programs Contemporary programs Emphasis on alcoholism as the Broad-brush approach: any issue appropriate for basis of the problem service Emphasis on supervisory referrals Combination of supervisory referral, self-referral, and referral by others Problems identified at late stage in Services offered at earlier stage in problem development development Services offered by medical or Services offered by generalist counsellors with alcoholism specialist expertise in chemical dependency and other areas Focus on troubled employees with Focus both on employees with work problems and job performance problems on employees/family members with no performance problems Confidentiality for referred Confidentiality for referred employees; anonymity employees for self-referred employees or family members Source: Lewis and Lewis, 1986


A Primer on Workplace Counselling The scope of EAP programs They can be (1) Full-service programs, (2) Limited utilization programs and (3) Information and referral only programs (1) Full-service programs Comprehensive services Employees and dependants Retirees and dependants Disabled and dependants Any kind of problem Unlimited utilization No cost to utilizer 24 hours per day, seven days a week Live answering service, pagers (2) Limited utilization program Provide some sessions free and charge subsequent sessions Only selected services are offered free (3) Information and referral-only programs No face-to-face counselling Referrals made by telephone Little or no follow-up Utilizers are referred out, if needed Voluntary Confidential Professional clinicians as counsellors Follow-up and aftercare Outreach Supervisory training Employee orientation

Selected services are charged Selected services are referred to external specialists


Models of Workplace Counselling The different models of workplace counselling are: 1. Counselling-orientation model 2. Brief-therapy model 3. Problem-focused model 4. Work-oriented model 5. Manager-based model 6. Externally based model 7. Internally based model 8. Welfare-based model 9. Organizational-change model 1. Counselling-orientation model In this model counselling approach is the key factor. Counsellors subscribe to their training and use the same approach for working with organizational clients. The different orientations are: cognitive-behavior therapy, psychodynamic, rational emotive behavior therapy, transactional analysis, Carl Rogers person-centered counselling, Gestalt model or Carl Jung perspective. In this model counsellors main interest is still focused almost exclusively on individuals and the organizational dimensions of counselling work are largely ignored. 2. Brief-therapy model Brief-therapy is the norm in employee counselling. The work of an EAP counsellor is that of crisis intervention, assessment and short-term counselling of the individual clients. Economics and time factors make brief-therapy (also called focused counselling) a good choice for many organizations. 3. Problem-focused model Problem-focused model of counselling sees the counsellors role as helping individuals to work with the immediate problems they bring. This is a five-stage model also called as life-skills counselling. Nelson-Jones developed and called it DASIE model. D - Develop the relationship, identify and clarify problems A - Asses problems and redefine in skill terms S - State working goals and plan interventions I - Intervene to develop self-helping skills E - End and consolidate self-helping skills 4. Work-oriented model Work-oriented model of counselling is centered solely on issues blocking an individual in his or her work. Counselling confines itself to the issues interfering with effective employment. Criteria of counselling are performance and productivity, fix the performance problem and fix it fast! The role of the counsellor is to get the employee fit and ready for work. This is not the place to help the client self-actualize or work on personal problems not related to the workplace.

This is an attractive counselling model for organizations that want value for money and want to think that time spent in counselling is for the welfare of the organization through the individual. 5. Manager-based model Some organizations view managers as quasi-counsellors for their staff. Managers spent much of their time working with and managing people. Training in counselling skills can help the managers to recognize what are all happening, why it is happening, the limitations, the challenges and opportunities around inter-personal and communication functions among employees. 6. Externally based model Externally based models of counselling are those brought in, and bought in, from outside the organization. The format used can be any of the above models or a mixture of them. The strengths of external counselling services: Not part of politics of the organization Can challenge what is taken for granted within the company Can offer training as well as counselling Can offer clear confidentiality Can provide range of services Can offer a number of counsellors with different skills and backgrounds The organization is not responsible for malpractice of counsellors 7. Internally based model In-house counselling is the norm in a number of companies. A part-time or full-time counsellor or some times a team of counsellors is employed to work with employees. The counselling service can be part of an already existing department or an independent unit. Sometimes internal and external counselling can work in tandem. 8. Welfare-based model This is a traditional model where welfare officers performed the role of a social worker, with limited counselling service. Welfare officers fulfill several tasks like: befriending, information-giving, advocate, home-visiting during sickness, giving legal and financial advice, advising on a range of topics and counselling. 9. Organizational-change model The result of individual / group counselling will spur personality change at the employee level. This transition is a valuable asset to the organization. Some organizations seamlessly integrate counselling into their growth & development.

Chapter 3 WHY WORKPLACE COUNSELLING? A sample of everyday problem Poor relationship between two key members of a production team A middle manager becoming dependant on alcohol A senior manager distracted by an impending divorce, looses a significant account A secretary grieving for a dead relative, misplaces an important document In a large workforce these problems go unnoticed and un-dealt with, and can collectively lead to immeasurable cost. See Appendix for workplace pathos

Chapter 4 ORGANIZATION IMPACT ON COUNSELLING Organization culture Organizations, like individuals, come in all shapes and sizes, with different cultures and a multiplicity of ways in which they structure their lives. Different cultures reflect the contrasting ways in which organizations manage their internal and external relationships. Organizational culture is about the ecology, the ethos, the personality, the atmosphere of a company. It is reflected in the way we do things around here and encompasses values, beliefs and attitudes that are shared by the members of the organization. There is also a shadow side of the organization where a whole domain of invisible network exists. These networks facilitate informal communication, relationships, decisions and are often as powerful as the formal channels. Effective managers know and manage the shadow side as well as the formal side of organizations. Organizational culture is a powerful influence on its members. Understanding the culture of an organization gives valuable insights into why individuals act the way they do, the norms that dictate behavior, and also help us devise interventions to help people who become ill, mentally or physically. It may be that organizational culture demands behavior from people that makes them ill. Like individuals are classified into types (e.g. introvert, extrovert), organizations are also classified by culture. One of the approaches is as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. Role culture Achievement culture Power culture Support culture

Role culture In role organization people take on roles and see others in role terms. Because people are defined in terms of their roles and responsibilities, these organizations tend to be somewhat hierarchical with rules and regulations to maintain roles. Authority exists to make sure that people maintain their roles, stay within them, sort out role conflicts, and principally ensure that the roles are geared towards the specific aim of the organization. The degenerate form of role culture exists where the individuals are sacrificed to the organization. There is such an emphasis on role that roles become artificial rather than personal and/or real. Counselling perspective: Role cultures may introduce counselling but will tend to see it as a fix-it operation where individuals out of role can be helped to return to full role operations. Unfortunately, counselling can be viewed as punitive within role organizations and may be used by managers to sort out their troubled or troubling employees. Because role organizations tend to be rational in their approach there may

be little time for or appreciation of emotion/feeling. Counselling will be seen as problemsolving, is likely be short-term and may be cognitive-behavioral. Achievement culture The achievement culture concentrates on the work to be done rather than roles. People will cross roles to get the job done. Individuals are driven and motivated by their enthusiasm for the job. The organization culture is collaborative, exciting, creative, dynamic and sometimes chaotic. Rules and policies are constantly under review. Counselling perspective: Despite their supportive and friendly atmosphere, achievement organizations find it difficult to cope with counselling. For them weakness is unacceptable, and whereas they stress the importance of the individual over the organization, it tends to be the healthy and working individual. As soon as individuals fall behind in the rapid, hectic world of marketplace, there is a tendency to send them off to have them sorted out. Achievement organizations tend to move towards external counselling provision which keeps counselling at a distance. Power culture The power culture is one where dominance rules, where strength and control are cherished values. Usually hierarchical and handle individuals without feeling. Motivation is seen as extrinsic. They are patriarchal, protective as well as demanding. The strength of power cultures is their ability to get things done. They protect employees and reward them well. They view individuals as weak. They can be punitive and can sacrifice individual to the organization. Counselling perspective: Counselling may be introduced to power organizations as a way of helping weaker employees manage their jobs. Support culture The support culture organization stresses the value of relationships, mutuality, communication and looking after its people. The emphasis is on collaborative work and rewards tend to be intrinsic: e.g. the satisfaction of working in the organization. Individuals are trusted to do their work, and support systems are in-built to help employees do their jobs well and reduce stress. Training is part of the job and employees are expected to be continually developing. The strong support culture cares for its employees deeply and recognizes that they are best assets of the company. Counselling perspective: Counselling services are seen as a natural part of support cultures. People are expected to have personal and work-related problems and need a forum where they can work with these. Organization takes counselling service as part of the skills within the organization. Does formal counselling service have a role here? Sometimes specialist services like AIDS, family counselling etc. are added.

Chapter 5 COUNSELLING IMPACT ON ORGANIZATION Counselling can itself be a source of organizational change. Rather than being just an appendage to a company, counselling can bring the values, the energy of change, the vitality of acceptance, a realization of who we are and what we can be, to the very dynamics of workplace life. Counselling values are about the importance and process of change, how people are empowered to manage their lives, how social responsibility is build into life, and how decisions can be made. Counselling can influence organizational culture to work towards the ideal strong and adaptive culture that serves the company. Having counselling service available in the workplace means that problems can be dealt with fairly quickly and can be worked through in the very environment from which they often emerge. The Workplace today What are employers doing to face the effects of mental illness / stress / physical illness in the workplace? More employers are providing facilities to help employees increase their level of physical fitness and reduce instances of physical illness (colds, backaches, coronary heart disease). There has been a large increase in the provision of counselling facilities for employees and their families. This includes employee assistance programmes (EAPs) with a variety of provision, including personal, couples and family counselling, legal and financial services, information and advice. Health education organized in the workplace is increasing. Workshops, short training sessions, specific topics like alcohol awareness, stop smoking campaigns, stress management, taking care of your heart etc. are all ways of helping employees to manage their physical and mental well-being.

Chapter 6 EAP AND TOP MANAGEMENT Top executives insist that corporate social responsibility was the main reason why they wished to install an EAP. They feel that such programmes are beneficial to themselves and to the wider community. A wholeness approach needs to be adopted towards employees: that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being go together and the people need to be treated as people. Counselling provision is part of that overall package, where it is accepted that individuals need professional counselling help at stages of their lives and that for the majority this is a worthwhile venture that enables them to deal with transitions and crises. Workplace counselling is bound up with legal, economic as well as humanitarian concerns. Some countries have legislation that makes employers responsible for emotional damage to employees. The introduction of counselling provision by industry is one way of ensuring that employers are taking reasonable care of their troubled or potentially troubled employees. Employees taking legal action are on the rise. In the US there has been an increase of 15% in compensation claims for work-related stress; and in Australia compensation payouts for stress claims are 35% of the total. EAP in Britain (1993 report by Reddy) In Britain more than 80% of companies offer counselling to their employees. About half of this is resourced externally. Counselling is used more in a reactive than a proactive mode. It is introduced on an as needed basis in response to a particular situation or a particular individual. Main obstacle is budgetary Cost benefit equation is not understood There is a belief that counselling is counter-culture. It means that a particular organization is genuinely not ready or counselling itself is not fully understood

Statistics around mental illness in the workplace (OLeary, Cartwright and Cooper, United Kingdom, 1994) One in five of the working population suffers some form of mental illness each year (approximately 6 million people) Approximately 20 percent of any workforce is affected by personal problems that impact on their work performance Some 90 million working days are lost each year as a result of mental illness

When asked about the true reason for absence from work, over half the employers felt that emotional / personal problems and stress were to blame Between 30 and 40 percent of all sickness from work involves some form of mental illness or emotional stress Alcohol abuse is estimated to cost about 2 billion per annum, with the cost to industry being put at approximately 1 billion. Cost We know the cost to industry of alcoholism, of absenteeism, of stress; we have never added up the effects of depression or broken relationships or the day-to-day emotional and mental problems faced by most individuals.

Chapter 7 IMPLEMENTATION OF WORKPLACE COUNSELLING Setting up and maintaining a counselling service in the workplace needs careful planning. Without carefully thought-through decisions on policy, procedures and marketing, problems will inevitably arise. EAPs generally do not fail because of clinical incompetence. Failures are more due to issues of administration, politics or lack of sufficient evaluation. Invariably failure could be traced to initial program implementation process. Six stages The steps and guidance for setting up counselling service in workplace are: 1. Preparation for counselling 2. Assessing workplace counselling 3. Contracting for workplace counselling 4. Introducing counselling into organizations 5. Terminating the relationship between organization and provider 6. Evaluating workplace counselling 1. Preparation for counselling It is essential that both an organization and a counselling provider have a number of facilities organized in advance. 1.1. The organization An organization which is planning to introduce workplace counselling service should begin by thinking through carefully what it wants. The following list can help in the decision process. 1. Setting up a small, representative team to steer the discussions and negotiations for providing a suitable counselling service. This group should be representative, covering all parts of the workforce. 2. Engaging an independent consultant to work with the team. The consultant provides basic education on counselling, if necessary. 3. Finding out the organization needs of counselling, like facilities, budget etc. Should counselling service contribute to organization support and change? Would counselling provision remain congruent with prevailing management practices? 4. Reviewing cost of counselling. 5. Checking on commitment of the organization; like support from key people from management, unions, all departments etc. This will ensure that counselling service has a chance of success. 6. Drawing up a list of potential counselling service providers. 7. What will be the required provisions of EAP? Counselling, advice, welfare, information giving etc. Now the organization has a clear concept of what it wants and where it is headed.

1.2. The counselling provider The counselling provider needs to have a policy statement outlining their purpose, the provisions they offer, restrictions & limitations, cost & finance, contract etc. 2. Assessment 2.1. Assessing workplace counselling This is a crucial stage in setting up counselling in an organization. The counselling provision should be tailor-made to suit size, culture, the nature of work of the organization, its location, its particular workforce. From the following list the organizations can derive the right kind of counselling for them: 1. Who or what has driven the initiative? 2. What does senior management want from the provision? 3. What does the human resources function want from the provision? 4. What do individual employees, including management, want from the provisions for themselves? 5. For each of the above three interest groups, what are the priorities? 6. What structure or support systems are already in place? 7. What are the logistical and economic constraints? 8. What level of quality assurance is required, and how will quality be monitored? 9. How will the program be marketed? 10. How will the program be evaluated? 11. How will the program fit in with the organizations culture? 2.2. Assessing the organization Assessing the organization in a number of areas is as follows: 1. What is the organization culture and how does it respond to the concept of counselling? 2. What are the counselling needs of employees? 3. Why is the organization looking for counselling just now? 4. How does the organization understand counselling? 5. How committed to counselling provision are the top people? 6. What facilities will be provided for counselling? 7. Who is the organizational contact with the counselling service? 8. How will counselling be integrated with the organization? 2.3. Assessing the counselling provision As counsellors want to assess the organization and its readiness for a counselling service, so organizations will want to assess the group the counsellors who will provide the counselling. Assessing the counselling provider in the following areas: 1. How many counsellors are available and what is their availability? 2. What are their qualifications? 3. Do counsellors have experience of working in organizations? 4. Are qualifications uniform or diverse? 5. What are the value systems of counsellors and are they uniform or diverse?

6. What sort of service is being offered? Is it 24-hour, remedial, developmental, long-term / short-term? 7. What will be the cost to the organization? 3. Contracting for workplace counselling The assessment stage allows both participants to find out information about each other and make initial judgments about suitability. The next stage is to draw up a more formal contract or agreement that covers roles and responsibilities as well as the practicalities of working together. 4. Introducing counselling into the workplace Contracting to bring counselling provisions into the workplace, however, is only the beginning: the real hard work starts in working out and implementing a strategy for introducing counselling to the organization. Two key areas are managing the counselling process and publicizing the counselling service. 5. Terminating counselling with an organization Contracts are either renewed or ended. 6. Evaluating workplace counselling The feedback and evaluation process is undertaken. The first step Once organization understands different stages of counselling implementation, it takes the initial move of appointing an EAP consultant. The EAP consultant starts with the following exercise and completes in the shortest agreed time frame. Educate the top management and interest groups Do a need analysis Do a stress audit Define and agree on the scope and expectation Organizational climate The organization with compatible counselling provision should possess the following characteristics: Full support and visible commitment from both top management and unions Integration with good management and personnel practices A willingness to deal also with the environmental sources of stress Integrated initiatives in counselling skills training for internal counsellors Training for them to confront and deal with problems as they arise A statement of policy and procedure from management and full information about the service to each employee The appointment of one individual within the organization with clear accountability for the proper management and resourcing of EAP

APPENDIX EMPLOYEE PATHOS AND WORKPLACE IMPACT (Various experiences, behaviors and feelings) The employees are affected by personality and behavioral issues. Some employees are able to manage or cope with it. In some cases it influences negatively their work performance. This note gives a list of pathos suffered by the employees. The scenario is common across all types of organizations. In a large workforce the employee pathos goes unnoticed and un-dealt with, and can collectively lead to immeasurable cost. The organization pays a price for it. Behavior / personality problem / situations / pathos to watch out Eager to please, wants to help rather than do, looking for a friend, cannot accept success, constantly worries about failure, dependant on others, indecisive, avoids responsibility, always taking on new work, never completes to deadlines, constantly at meetings Aggressive, talks to others, does not listen, bosses others, fixed views and opinions, autocratic, unwilling to delegate, critical and contemptuous of others, unreasoned , envious, cannot take criticism Cannot organize own work properly, blames others constantly, finds it difficult to finish jobs, defensive, secretive, has few friends, irrational, prone to panic, avoids personal contact, uncooperative, sometimes deprecating about the organization, uses memos, puts off work, anxious Bullying coworkers, sexual assault, lewd remarks, shouting and yelling, victimizing junior worker, ridiculing coworker, partiality, overload of work, overwork, late working Marital problems, bereavement, drinking, drugs, chronic illness, lack of emotional adjustment, inability to cope, lack of work skills, career crisis Common occurrence in most of the Workplace Poor relationship between two key members of a production team A middle manager becoming dependant on alcohol A senior manager distracted by an impending divorce, looses a significant account A secretary grieving for a dead relative, misplaces an important document A manager wants to inform a member of his department that she is about to be made redundant. The manager is anxious over the matter and spends two hours on how to tell the news.

An employee has a very poor appraisal. The employee feels she is victimized. She is sulking and this affects the work. A senior manager has sudden bouts of irrational fears. His work is affected. He wants to share his fears with somebody. Elizabeth comes to meet her manager. She is in her early 30s, married for 5 years. She enjoys her job and career. She wants to have a child and her husband also supports her. I am at the cross roads, can you help me, Mr. Manager? A merger talk is in progress. The Vice President is anxious about this. He is 50 years old and relatively less techno-savvy. Sudha, mother of 2 children breaks down in front of her manager. She says the older child aged 5 years has developed sibling rivalry and throws tantrums. I dont know, how to manage it, I cannot work peacefully at office. Can you help me Mr. Manager? An employee is unusually sitting late, even though there is no incremental work pressure. Persistent lateness People not performing to their usual standard Inability to act as part of a team Unusual or changed behavior Presenteeism is a new phenomenon. Employees come to work even when they are sick. They cause infection to co-workers, through sneezing, coughing and hand-shakes. Presenteeism is prevalent when there is a sense of job insecurity. A young mother employee who delivered a baby three months back joined for work only last week. She is in need of support from the company. She gets bouts of anxiety thinking about the baby. An alcoholic employee feels helpless. He has been attending AA meetings for the last two years to overcome drinking problem. He is a binge drinker. An employee is technically very sound. Every project manager wishes to have him in his team. Thats history. Today, the same project managers detest him. HR manager is clueless. An employee has extra-marital affair. He neglects his work and refuses to attend meetings planned in the evening. An employee sends anonymous dirty jokes to coworkers.

An employee is a heavy smoker and wants to quit smoking. He says his low energy level affects his concentration in work. He dozes off in office. An employee is a heavy smoker; co-workers complain that he stinks. A senior manager constantly worries about his teenage son / teenage daughter / sick mother. He gets anxiety attacks when he is on tour. An employee has developed suicidal ideation because her husband is a drug addict and jobless. She has been working in the company for 20 years. Should the company support her today? Prakash - head of Personnel, has periodic bouts of severe depression when he is quite unapproachable. During these bouts he can be vindictive, hurtful and paranoid. Should the organization, department, co-workers adjust their working to the moods of Prakash? The items listed above are present in many workplaces. Most managers know about this. The employee is a victim of these pathos and pain; he is helpless, clueless and continues to suffer. The organization is also equally clueless. The organization adjusts to the employee problems. If problem at the employee level and the organization level is left unattended, it can cause long-term effects.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND REFERENCE I got insight about counselling from many of my anonymous clients belonging to various institutions, organizations, hospitals, old age & juvenile homes and alcohol & drug deaddiction centers; my mentors, teachers, peers; and my students. I have also used the following books to compile this primer. I sincerely acknowledge the authors and publishers of the books. 1. Workplace Counselling, Michael Carroll, Sage Publication 2. Handbook of Counselling in Organizations, Michael Carroll, Michael Walton, Sage Publication 3. The Skilled Helper, Gerard Egan, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company

The reader has full freedom to copy and use the contents of this primer.

Compiled by: M.Shankar Email: shankarshrink@gmail.com Date: January 30, 2007 Version 2