Corporate is the most common form of business organization. The use of information technology, organizational restructuring, changes in work time and working schedules have radically transformed the nature of work among the employees of corporate. The corporate world itself is diversifying, with an increase of the employees from all part of the world represents different culture, religion, custom and traditions. The present paper explains the importance of counselling in the corporate by focusing on issues of recruitment, training, performance appraisal, leadership, motivation, working conditions. The paper also tries to highlight the importance and scope of counselling in handling the human resource in an organization.
Keywords: Corporate, Counselling, People Management, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
Over the years there has been a growing concern regarding the needs of an employee as an individual. Many organisations have seen and felt the need of guiding and helping their employees to solve their problems, pertaining to both personal life and professional careers. This change in the management attitude was not due to some sudden humane feelings for their employees, but was rather for the fact that, many times organisations suffer losses as employees cannot give their best unless they are satisfied with all the factors affecting their lives. This aspect becomes much more relevant in the case of hospitality and tourism sectors as the employees are in direct contact with the customers. Earlier it was considered impolite to enquire about any employee's private life and counselling was mainly restricted to career counselling, but with the changing times this factor is no longer considered rude. Many a time, private matters such as near and dear ones sickness or death may hamper the employee productivity and employer intervention might help to ease the matter.
Counseling is an art and science where two or more people are engaged in a helping relationship in which one of them (counselor) is a trained, educated, qualified, and most often licensed and certificated as the helper and the other(s) are client(s) seeking help. The purpose of the relationship is that of the counselor helping one or more clients to solve issues, concerns or problems which arise from attempts to cope with life in an increasingly complex world (Maples, 1996, p.47).
A shorter definition is also provided by the American Counseling Association, “…counseling can be…defined as a relatively short-term, interpersonal, theory-based process of helping persons who are basically psychologically healthy resolve developmental and situational problems” (ACA, 2007).
The counselling intervention in the corporate sector may be considered in the following fields:
Recruitment: Recruitment is the process of selecting the right candidate for the right job and it is not so easy selecting the right candidate from the employer perspective. The employer should have qualified recruiters in the organization, who not only source the candidates but conducts a series of tests, mostly psychometric tests and identifies their strengths and weakness to develop their weakened area in the induction process. The trained social workers/counselors/psychologists conduct series of periodical tests to evaluate their performance and counsel the weak candidates towards performing better in the organization.
Training and development: It ensures that the employee’s specific skills and capabilities are upgraded. It helps the employees to keep pace with the latest developments taking place in their jobs. The responsibility for identifying the training needs, short listing the candidates for training, getting feedback, evaluating training programme, lies on corporate counselor. Coaching is a another mode of training in order to deal with work place problems (Hearn, 2001) and an appropriate coaching intervention is focused on tackling work place problems, whether internal (i.e. perceptions or unhelpful core beliefs) or external (organisational). Wales (2003) conducted a qualitative study exploring 16 managers’ experiences of coaching, and two of the themes that emerged were stress management and work/life balance. Many of the participants of the study reported that coaching had helped them to reduce their high stress levels and that they felt calmer and more able to deal with pressure following coaching. Regarding work/life balance the managers reported that coaching had helped them to be more proactive in the management of the different roles in their lives. In addition, several case studies have reported that coaching is effective in handling work related stress (Ascentia, 2005; Richard, 1999). This training and coaching can be done by the corporate counselors based on the need of the organization.
Performance appraisal: performance appraisal is the evaluation of an individual’s on the job performance. Industrial psychologists have devised many methods for appraising individual employee’s performance objectively. There are certain KRA’s (Key Result Areas) which will be assessed and those areas where employee fails to do well, those areas are substantiated thorough giving training to the employees. Employees who do well with KRA’s they will be recommended for promotion/Increment or other kind of benefits. Further, the role of corporate counselor is very important at the time of increment where employees show their dissatisfaction about the percentage of increment which they got. Here counselor can help the organization by addressing the problems which arises at the time of appraisal.
Leadership: The style of leadership, the interpersonal skills of the leaders and the capabilities of the subordinates contribute to the success of the organization. Industrial psychologists have been conducting several researches to arrive at the best style of supervision, and the leadership type that successfully motivates workers towards higher productivity. So, a corporate counselor can help in identifying individuals with leadership qualities. A major concern of counselling is to enable the employee to identify and modify any dysfunctional aspects in his mode of thinking and behaviour.
Work conditions: A good work condition is absolutely necessary for an employee to give his best performance on the job. Work conditions here refers not only to mere conditions of humidity, temperature, lighting and working hours, but also an understanding relationship among the employees and supervisors. A counselor can work towards creating conducive working conditions for the employees. Organization can seek the help of counselors in dealing with the following problems:
Motivation: motivated and satisfied employees are found to perform better on their job. To motivate employees, employees should be provided good quality leadership, job security, ample advancement opportunities and a good psychological and physical work climate. Employees shall also be provided with a possibility to deal with their personal needs without leaving the workplace. This could involve deliveries of certain medicines, foodstuff, or other services to the employees. Thus, employees could save time and get more satisfaction in their workplace (Westman, 2009). Furthermore, a counselor can also look in to the safety, hygiene and welfare issues as stipulated by the legislation.
Job stress: Stress is becoming a part of life for employees in the organization. Recent lifestyle changes, growing demand on employment, inflation, rising cost of living, and growing competition in the market economy has contributed to stress at the work place. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) defined stress as a relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her wellbeing.
A counselor in the corporate can help the employees in identifying their level of stress, and planning to reduce the stress level by conducting stress management programmes at the individual level as well at group level.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) is more common (Hill, 2000), in the larger organization as well as companies like IT/ITES/BPO and Call centers, where employees have to work in the nightshift, have to extend their working hours, no fixed working hours etc. and it has been suggested that the main rationale for providing these services is to deal with work related stress (Briner,1997).
Employee Assistance Programs allow employers to offer their employees short term confidential counselling to help them to address work related and/or personal problems which might be interfering with their performance on the job.
The primary purpose of these services is to support the well-being of employees and, by doing so, to promote healthy and cohesive working relationships. Healthier and more self-aware employees build stronger relationships, both with their team members and with customers. They are also typically more productive which affects the organisation's output and bottom-line. counselling services can be provided to address the problems around the workplace. Typical issues addressed in this process may include:
There are mixed reports regarding the effectiveness of counselling in reducing work-related stress. Briner (1997) claims that there is little sound evidence for the effectiveness of stress management interventions including counselling, whereas Hill (2000) suggests that there is plenty of evidence supporting the value of counselling in reducing stress. However, research has found that certain organisations are reluctant towards the use of counselling to tackle work stress due to the stigma and negative perceptions associated with counselling (Gyllensten, Palmer & Farrants, 2005). Coaching on the other hand is viewed very differently and has positive connotations within the corporate arena (Gyllensten et al.,2005; Peltier, 2002). Hence the present corporate counselors have tuff time to prove their existence in the corporate sector. I hope, counselors with social work education background can do a better work by addressing the problems of employees of corporate sector.
PhD Scholar, Department of Social Work, Bangalore University, Jnanabharathi-560056
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