Jayadeva de Silva
1 Why should we introduce Employee Counselling?
Many firms today realize the importance of attracting and retaining highly
skilled, quality employees as a necessary component of their competitive
advantage. One of the reasons that a quality workforce along with innovative
tools for attracting and retaining has become so important is because previous
sources of competitive advantage have become less important overtime.
For example, previously, a firm’s success was attributed to an emphasis on
product and process technology, access to financial markets, developing
economies of scale & learning curves, patents, protected and regulated markets
& individual attractiveness. Recently, however, some scholars have noted that
these traditional sources of success are less important than in the past and
emphasize that the selection and management of a quality workforce has
become an increasingly critical factor to organizational success. Today, HR
practitioners are busy developing new and innovative tools to attract and retain
One such tool that soon is likely to gain popularity in the corporate world is
Employee Counselling. Employee Counselling is a service offered by
companies to their employees. Organizations that care for their employees are
perceived as more meaningful and purposeful. Every organization has
economic and social goals. Here, it is worthwhile to note some observations
made by the Chairman of Infosys in this regard. He states, “The task of
leadership is to make people believe in themselves, the organization, in the
aggressive targets the organization sets. Belief comes from trust: the trust that
this organization isn’t about making one set of stakeholders better off; it is
about making every one of us better off….”
A firm may gain competitive advantages from Employee Counselling activities
especially if its reputation and image is valuable, rare and not easily imitated.
Employee Counselling therefore is a very powerful tool in the hands of
companies in attracting and retaining quality workforce.
Although Counselling is known by many names like 'therapy' or 'helping' it is
by and large, an attempt to encourage change. The counselee’s problems could
be so complex that it might be difficult to see any system of help as an elegant
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solution. But, Counselling has shown some effectiveness over the years, as a
process of helping people come through with their troubles.
Counselling is a process of helping people to learn how to solve certain
interpersonal, emotional and decision problems. Counselors help their
counselees to ‘learn’. The criterion for success in any Counselling is real
changes in behavior on the part of the counselee. Counselors are concerned
that their counselees become independent problem solvers. Continued
dependence on the counsellor as well as others is discouraged. Counselors are
concerned with habit changes that increase peoples' satisfaction with
themselves. It could be anything from helping people choose a career option,
becoming appropriately assertive or communicating more harmoniously with
team members. Largely, Counselling has been a 'remedial approach'. But
recently there has been a slight change in emphasis, from remedial to
It is rightly said, ‘half knowledge is dangerous’. People often harbor myths
about the counseling process. Some false beliefs about counseling are as
No human being is perfect and we all constantly fight our own inadequacies in
our own ways. Working in any organization requires an individual to be geared
up to face the challenges of work-life. This does not mean he/she can escape
the duties and responsibilities of family life, whether married or unmarried. Not
every individual is competent enough to take and manage the stress of a hectic
life style. Thus, we cannot deny the fact that every individual has intra and
inter-personal problems whether at work or at home. The HR function of any
organization has the most important challenging job of "making the most" of
their Human Resource. An employee can give his best to the organization only
if he is in a positive "frame of mind". A mentally preoccupied or troubled
individual will be in a position to give very little to his company.
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No successful organization will ever be free from stress among its employees.
Organization should be able to deal with stress on individuals at all levels. Here
the role of Counselling comes in, where people can talk and attempt to solve
their personal and work related worries. Need for employee counselling arises
due to various causes in addition to stress. These causes include: to deal
effectively with one’s own emotions, interpersonal problems and lack of team
spirit at workplace, inability to meet job demands, over work-load,
confrontation with authority, responsibility and accountability, conflicts with
superiors, subordinates and management and various family problems, health
problems, career problems, etc. Counselling is a process of helping an
individual to help himself.
Counselling, basically aims at helping individuals take charge of their lives. For
this, individuals need two types of skills: ability to make decisions wisely and
altering one's own behavior to yield desirable consequences. A counselor’s job,
then, becomes one of arranging appropriate learning experiences so that people
develop these skills. Counselors avoid giving speeches about what should be
done, but ideas for action are developed with the active co-operation of the
counselee. The Counsellor does not try to talk the client into feeling that the
situation is hopeless. Instead, he/she encourages the client to begin taking
action, the successful consequences of which would encourage the client to
2 So what is counselling then?
-Counselling can be explained as a process of guiding a person or a group faced
with a problem, to take their own decisions in order to overcome the
difficulties and be more productive.
This can be treated as a job or a profession as it is done either as a service or
for earning a living.
3 So what is the Importance of counselling ?
Counselling is helpful in following situations where physical medication cannot
Deterioration of human relations.
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Addiction to drugs, alcohol and smoking.
Who need help to overcome difficulties (career, family etc?)
Those emotionally affected by major disasters, calamities (earth quakes,
tsunami, war etc.)
Children with emotional problems.
4 Who is a counselor?
A counsellor should possess the required competencies (knowledge, skills &
attitudes, the ability to apply knowledge to situations and good personal
5 Guiding principles for Counselling
People can change
They can grow
Every Person has a worth
Accept the person as he is
Expect resistance at the beginning
Once understood ,S/he will attempt to change
6 Stages in the counselling relationship
Meeting with the client
Exploring the issues
Helping with the feelings
Ending the relationship when the person is cured.
7 Five R of Counselling
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In carrying out this activity communication takes an important place. The
counselor should be able to use intelligence to get the problem out of the
8 Some Skills needed for counselling
The following too will be useful in this exercise.
9 Need for professionalism in Counselling
Many problems have arisen in the counseling field due to counsellors’
weaknesses such as:
Little or no knowledge of subject/methods of counselling
Lack of basic education to understand psychological treatment
Counsellors getting involved with the client in undue manner
Making decisions on behalf of the client
Criticize the behavior of the client
Acting like a psychologist or clinical counselor when you are not
Prying in to personal life of the client
Failure to keep confidentiality
The unfortunate part is such mistakes are detrimental which can even result in
harming the lives of all connected and even suicide. Each Individual is unique
which makes one think of different ways of handling different persons even if
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the problem is the same. Otherwise more harm will be done than any good, to
the people and the society.
Therefore to be successful in counselling,
a) Counsellor should have adequate data to discuss during counseling
b) Counselee should be made to feel totally comfortable during the process of
c) Counselling should begin with proper explanation of objective of counseling.
d) Personal counselling and performance counselling should never be mixed
e) The counselor should have an excellent communication and behavioral skills
(including body language).
10 Ethics in Counselling
Referral in certain cases
Not creating a dependence
This space is for your additional notes
*Read the attached case studies which illustrates situations that require
employee counselling in the workplace
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Case study 1 (in a school)
‘Suduwathura’ is the name of the village. They used this name for the school
also. Mr Fernando is teaching English in suduwathura Maha Vidyalaya and this
is his first teaching appointment. He is young, attractive and energetic. He has
understood his duties and responsibilities very well and was doing them with
out any hesitation, so far there were no complains against him. He has his own
motor bike to come to school. He was very concern about his dress and his
dresses were well suited for a teacher. He had a good relationship with his
colleges as well as the students. They all liked Mr. Fernando.
Since last two weeks, there was a sudden change in Mr. Fernando. He
completely lost his interest in his dresses. He wore the same dirty shirt for
more than two days. Hair and beard was undone.
Mr. Wickramasinghe, the principal, observed this sudden change of Mr.
Fernando. Many times he observes him staring at something. More over he
observed Mr. Fernando neglecting his teaching. He was thinking something
very deeply while students were involved in their own activities.
It was a Monday. Till 8.15 am Mr. Fernando did not come to school. Mr.
Wickramasinghe was looking at the school gate through his office window to
catch any image of Mr. Fernando. Mr. Fernando’s bike entered in to the school
premises. Mr. Fernando saw the post man near the gate walking towards the
office. He stopped near him; postman gave a letter to Mr. Fernando. He got
down from the bike and started to read the letter. Few times he stopped
reading, stared at the sky with a questioning look, again started to read. Almost
10 minutes were spent near the gate. Slowly he entered to the office.
At that time Mr. Wickramasinghe was furious about Mr. Fernando’s behavior.
He got up from his chair and reached near him
‘This is a curse for the children, look; today also they lost their first period. If
you come late like this I have to report about you to the officers. You have
come late and you want to read your letter. Don’t you have any feelings about
these children? ‘
Mr. Fernando stared at Mr. Wickramasinghe for a moment and caught him
with his collar and stared to hit. Staff members came and separated them
otherwise there would have been a big fight. Officers were called for an
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Case Study 2 (Mr. M.H.M.Panapitiya)
Age ------------------ 30 Years
Civil Status ------------ Married
Professional Background; Educational Background; Psychological Background
Mr. M.H.M. Panapitiya hails from a middle class family in down south. His
father is a farmer. His mother and father are living. There are two members in
Panapitiya’s family. Both elder to him and both married. Panapitiya is the
youngest in the family. Usually the youngest in the family is considered a
“Badapissa” and invariably pampered by the members of the family. He grew
up in such a background.
After receiving his higher education at the Moratuwa University; he joined a
medium scale carpentry workshop. Around 15pepole work under him and he
was a design engineer in addition; he worked as a manager.
After 12 months he left this workshop to join a precision tool making company
in FTZ. He preferred this place, as he was not very far away from home.
Further he was able to broaden his knowledge as a designer.
Panapitiya has to go from A-Z as he dose not have knowledge about the
systems adopted in this company; which included company standards,
Computer software’s, Handling machines, New methods etc. Hence he has to
start his life as a trainee designer.
NDT Qualified- Mechanical Engineering.
This particular candidate builds up what you may call a “superiority complex”
after he was told about the company’s policies and the orientation program.
The company policy is not to give a designers uniform until and unless the
trainee successfully completes his training program; which is six months.
Now this particular candidate meets some of his university mates who had
been with him at the university during his time. These mates too went through
the normal company procedure of going through the training period without
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wearing the designer’s uniform. It is only after completion of their training
period that they received their designer uniform.
Now there are two factors to be observed.
Dignity of labour
“Superiority” complex “
This particular candidate was subject to the normal checks given to others
while entering the company premises and living the company premises. The
seniors influenced him and put this problem in his head. Whereas, they
themselves had gone through the same checks one-way or the other.
“You are an Engineer and it is demanding and an insult to check an engineer”
Most problem this is what they said. This particular candidate thought for a
while; that they should not check an executive- an engineer.
Finally he met up with HR Manager, he was in tears; He told the HR manager
that he has decided to leave the company because of the security checking.
Case Study 3 (Performance)
Anjalee Jayaweera, a recent graduate from a respectable business school, has
just been appointed as the superior of the installation department for residential
telephone installations. Her boss told her that she faces a real challenge because
productivity of her new workgroup is down and absenteeism is very high.
Anjalee had learned from her OB class that goal setting is an effective
technique for motivation. She decided that she would use it to solve her
problems. On her second day on the job she announced to the crew that they
would each have a goal for the day to accomplish.
These goals were set at 110 percent of the production of each person during
the past sixty days. The reception to Anjalee’s edict was cool, but she was
pleased that she was assertive and forceful and had every thing under control.
The next day every single person in the department called in sick.
Please read the chapter on Counselling in the book titled “Humantalents
management by Jayadeva de Silva. This book can be now downloaded free
from the Internet
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