What few businesses know about employee counselling
Should your company provide employee counselling ? You don’t have to be Peter Jones, James Caan or Deborah Meaden to understand that a healthy workforce, both mentally and physically, is important to the success of your business. Traditionally we have been good at thinking about our physical safety at work. We have fire extinguishers, we go on moving and handling courses or we may have to wear protective clothing. Yet when it comes to mental health there is less of a safety culture. Yet the simplest changes, such as environment and access to employee counselling can make a big difference.
One of the hardest places to cope with anxiety and depression is in the workplace. If you have suffered from anxiety or depression then you will know the workplace is a big part of where that is played out. In recent research the number of people suffering from mental health issues in work had climbed to one third in the last 5 years. Staff often describe the difference that employee counselling has made to helping them cope in the workplace.
There are a number of common anxieties that swirl round mental illness in the workplace and it is worth taking a moment to name them.
- People think that there is nothing wrong with me. They see a weak will, I should pull myself together.
- I am anxious about going back into work, I don’t know what I will say to people when they ask why I was off sick
- My manager is difficult to talk to about my personal stuff because and it makes me upset at work.
- I don’t like being unable to cope with my feelings in from of colleagues.
Improving the picture
One of the simplest steps that businesses have been taking is to talk openly about mental health issues. Discussions at all levels in the company from the boardroom down to the shop front help make it the norm to have the conversations about mental health. Where successful staff have an environment that they feel they can come forward and be treated with compassion. Yet there are business benefits from increased productivity too.
Good business practice suggests you should take this one stage further. Have resources that you can offer your staff in moments of crisis. It might be a full employee assistance program or a working agreement with a local counselling service that staff can access an employee counselling service. They have a number they can call that allows them to talk. This can potentially increasing their ability to cope, reduce absence and making the company a great, profitable place to work.
A good service will work with you to help you introduce safeguards for both the company and the staff. The company staff will see qualified counsellors and measurment and monitoring of progress is in place. Having a good employee counselling service can be one of the best business decisions you ever made for you and your employees. But however you tackle mental health in the company remember the difference that talking makes.