The trouble with cliches is that as much as we may try to dismiss them, they have a basis in undeniable fact. It’s universally acknowledged that a happy workforce is a productive workforce (by an estimated 12%), yet translating that cliche into actionable strategy is a quandary that businesses of all shapes and sizes must deal with. From independent SMEs to huge multinational corporate giants employers take great pains to ensure the happiness and emotional well-being not just because it aids productivity but because it makes the workplace a more pleasant and congenial atmosphere that breeds dedication, trust, and commitment.
Yet, all employees know that an employee emotional state doesn’t start and end with the workday. There are a plethora of external factors that may impinge on an employee’s emotional wellbeing from financial trouble to personal relationships. While a good manager will often feel an obligation to improve the emotional wellbeing of the workforce they may not feel entirely comfortable in facilitating this themselves. Perhaps they feel that they lack the training and experience or perhaps they simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it in a meaningful way. Besides, how many employees really feel comfortable about opening up emotionally to their boss? For numerous reasons, some businesses choose to outsource their employee’s emotional welfare to employee counseling services.
Isn’t counseling for teenagers?
When the subject of counseling comes up many defer to experiences that we had or witnessed in our school years. While it’s true that counseling can be of enormous benefit to young people navigating the emotional and psychological rollercoaster of adolescence it doesn’t take a school counseling masters online degree to see how the same principle can be of benefit to full-grown adults. The notion of being able to discuss one’s complicated personal problems in a “safe” place inside of the workplace yet outside of the organization’s workings. A space free of judgment and recrimination where one can talk freely without fear of how what they say will impact on how they will be perceived in a professional capacity.
Emotional and psychological health is a very real aspect of overall health and employers are slowly dispelling the stigma surrounding disorders such as anxiety and depression. Mental health and emotional disorders are a leading factor in absenteeism and a 2010 study by J McLeod of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy demonstrated that employee counseling interventions reduced such employee absences by up to 50%.
As with any overhead, businesses must weigh the costs of outsourcing employee counseling against its potential to save money that would be lost to absenteeism or poor productivity. Even if employee counseling is not an option, employers owe it to their employees to build in infrastructure that will allow them to aid their own recovery such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Frivolity or fundamental?
There’s empirical evidence that employee counseling works. Employers have a duty of care to their employees and it is their legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment. The careful management of the employee’s emotional health is as fundamental as safe use of hazardous substances, training for potentially dangerous processes or any other sort of health and safety compliance. While employers may not have a legal obligation to provide employee counseling, it’s certainly in their best interests.
I do like that the article points out the importance of mental health for employees. After all, if an employee is being harassed or just doing the same thing every day they might lash out. A counseling service can provide employees with a safe place to go where they can talk about any problems they have with their work environment.