The workplace is where people come in headfirst with tight deadlines, teammate conflict, and high workloads. In addition to today’s turbulent economic and health conditions, these workplace woes create the perfect recipe for employee burnout, absenteeism, and turnover.
That’s why more than ever, workplace counseling needs to become an essential component of any employee assistance program. But how does employee counseling actually work? And what is the true benefit of this approach to staff support? Let’s find out.
What is Workplace Counselling And How Does It Work?
Workplace counseling is a form of therapy offered to employees of a company. It is often free of cost to employees and provided through an employee assistance program. The goal is to give employees a safe place to discuss any problems they’re facing. Counseling sessions may be offered in-person, through video calls, or digital platforms like the ThoughtFullChat App.
Counselors providing the service focus on problem-solving. On top of being a sounding board, they guide clients to implement healthy and effective coping strategies. Three common themes for workplace counseling include
For an issue that has been caused by, or worsened, through work
To address non-work issues which may spill over into work (relationships, financial problems, health issues)
To create a positive impact on workplace behavior or professional growth
What Are The Benefits of Workplace Counseling?
Workplace counseling has been proven to alleviate the occurrences of psychological problems, reduce absences due to illness, and enhance attitude toward work (1). These findings urge employers to improve the accessibility to these services especially since we’re seeing staggering rates of workplace stress-related ails.
Still not convinced? Let’s dive deeper into why we need to prioritize this approach of support for employees, and how it benefits us beyond the organization:
1) Reduce long-term costs
Absence due to stress-related illness is unavoidable. However, if this issue unduly prolongs and accumulates, it is incredibly damaging to the individual, employers, and the greater society. We can see this translate into higher turnover rates and health care costs.
Thankfully, workplace counselors are trained to provide us with healthy strategies to manage stress. And it’s only logical to proactively optimize the health of the workforce if we want to reduce costs related to burnout, turnover, absenteeism, and accident-related disability.
2) Improves workforce productivity
The APAC Benefits Strategy Study 2017 found that 72% of employers in Singapore consider stress as an issue that affects productivity (2). Knowing this, organizations need to intervene and provide support before seeing serious slumps in business outcomes.
Providing employees access to workplace counseling provides a safe place for employees to untangle issues dampening their ability to work. Mentally healthy employees also make a culture for greater synergy that spearheads organizational development. Eventually, people can show up and leave work feeling more motivated, innovative, resourceful, and resilient.
3) Creates a workplace safety net
Workplace counseling is like the fence at the top of the cliff as well as the ambulance at the bottom. We shouldn’t wait for employees to fall into crisis to go to therapy. And evidence has shown that this form of support is an effective way to prevent workplace-related ails from occurring in the first place (3).
Making workplace counseling accessible and free provides employees with a sense of security in itself. When we remove the logistical and financial barriers to seeking help, we increase the likelihood of employees seeking help when a crisis happens as well.
4) Destigmatizes mental health
The 2018 Institute for Mental Health found that 87% of employees don’t seek help for mental health in Singapore because of the stigma around it (4). That’s why embedding workplace counseling into your employee wellness strategy creates a culture where help-seeking is encouraged.
You also establish a reputation as an employer that cares about staff. And when you reap the rewards of destigmatizing workplace mental health, such as improved employee performance and reduced absenteeism, this prompts other organizations to also put their employees’ wellbeing first.
Organizational leaders need to consider counseling as an essential employee welfare initiative. This means making counseling a wellness program for all and not solely for those who seem to have issues affecting their work. When the well-being of staff is maintained and developed, leaders can then help employees achieve mental resilience while maintaining strategic success.
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