In any working environment, employees are prone to undergo some stressful moments from time to time. These moments can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. These problems arise from the different activities and interactions within the workplace. Outside their workplace, employees also go through trying times in their personal lives, financially and psychologically, for example, due to lack of personal time to attend to personal commitments or domestic problems. Therefore, the different issues faced by employees can be categorized into; personal, job performance, societal, and family problems. An employee’s performance is expected by management to still be up to standard despite these challenges. The efforts required to meet these needs and expectations can be draining and maybe depressing to employees. This, in turn, reduces their effectiveness at work and productivity at work, potentially making them a liability. Such impacts have necessitated the implementation of employee counseling within a company.
An employee counseling form is a pre-prepared document that acts as a guide to a counselor/supervisor on the information that should be discussed in an employee’s counseling meeting. It is also used to document the findings of a counseling session and can be used for reference in the future should the need arise. In the form, a counselor fills in why or what led to the need for the counseling session, details about an incident that raised some concern from management, and the corrective action to be taken to this effect.
What is Employee Counselling
Employee counseling is a human resource tool that is devoted to attract, train, motivate and retain highly skilled and committed employees in order to get a competitive advantage over rival companies. It is carried out to listen, understand an employee’s problems, and providing guidance and advice on different ways to solve them.
Counseling is done through sessions where a supervisor and an employee meet to discuss a particular incident or an employee’s decline in performance. Counseling is carried out privately and face-to-face, where a counselor tries to understand the employee’s problems and advise them accordingly.
Counseling can be carried out by different people depending on the size and capability of a company; in small organizations, the manager can assume this role, where else in large organizations, usually a professional counselor is hired. However, it is essential to note that counseling is not a form of punishment but rather a corrective measure.
Advantages of Employee Counseling
Employee counseling provides employees with an opportunity to share and discuss day-to-day conflicts and problems they experience while working in a company.
Employee counseling has various advantages that cut across different aspects of a business. Primarily, employee counseling motivates and increases the quality of a company’s workforce and helps them actualize their full potential. The ripple effect is an increase in performance, improved quality of products and services, good inter-personal relationships between employees, a conducive working environment, and profits.
- Counseling helps an employer understand an employee’s perspective of various aspects of a company, such as policies and guidelines, and can therefore adjust them in a mutually agreeable context that reduces their shortcomings.
- Counseling helps retain employees for a significant duration which saves on operating costs and affordability as employees feel appreciated and valued.
- Absenteeism is reduced as the employee(s) feel motivated and confident to carry out their duties and hence report to work when they should.
- Counseling helps improve communication between management and employees as the staff has a platform they can speak up without the fear of being fired. This, in turn, informs management of potential problems they might not be aware of.
The employee should be notified ahead of time, and an agreeable time should be set to hold the session. Make sure to inform them of the reason(s) as to why the meeting is being called. Remind the employee that it is not a disciplinary action, although should the employee not rectify the identified shortcomings, further course of action would be taken. It is also important to make the employee aware that the session is being documented and what the counsellor intends to do with the form. This creates an environment that invites for honesty, and hence the employee would be compelled to share more. You should look for a space that is private and free from interruption to conduct the counselling session.
Important Factors to Consider During Employee Counseling
Employee counseling is devoted to equipping the employees with the right attitude and motivation to carry out their duties in their respective workplaces.
To ensure a counseling session achieves its intended purpose, you should consider factors;
Collect necessary documentation
Collecting the necessary information associated with the incident or problem helps you prepare an array of questions that you feel if answered, would help you understand the incident better. The type of information could be an employee’s record of attendance, receipts, performance evaluations from supervisors, customer feedback, or co-workers’ complaints. From that information, you can build an evidence-based case that shows when and what happened. Among the information to be gathered is the determining the roles and responsibilities of the employee in question and company policies; this helps identify cases in which an employee is within their permissible limits either in attendance or other requirements. You should look for a space that is private and free from interruption to conduct the counseling session.
Understand how the employee’s conduct does not meet expectations
An employee cannot be at fault if, at all, they were not expected to meet some level of quality or quantity in terms of service or product. A counselor should be able to draw a clear line between what was expected and what actually happened. The employee should be notified ahead of time, and an agreeable time is set to hold the session.
Highlight the consequences of the shortcoming
Since most companies rely on the efficiency of every department/employee to produce high-quality goods and services, poor performance by one department/employee can undo the effort put in by other employees and impact the whole workplace. Try and show the employee how this is so when explaining to them the importance of their contribution to the company. This makes an employee feel valued, which can go a long way to increase their confidence to overcome personal problems they might be going through. Remind the employee that it is not a disciplinary action, although should the employee not rectify the identified shortcomings, further course of action would be taken.
What to Include in an Employee Counseling Form
There are several things a good counseling form should contain.
They can be categorized into the following;
The form should include the employee’s information, such as their full name, job position, and employer. This information is provided at the very top of the form. The date when the counseling session is to take place should also be indicated.
The reason(s) for counseling
There are diverse reasons why an employee would require counseling, and they should be declared in the form. The reason could range from unethical behavior, reduced performance, harassment, poor attendance, or company safety policy violation. Any policies that the employee agreed to when joining the company can be quoted in this section.
Details and nature of the incident and names of witnesses
Highlight further information about the incident, like when and how it happened. This is important for documentation and future reference purposes. In cases where there were witnesses to these allegations, indicate their names.
If at all, there were prior counseling sessions concerning the incident, the date, and any agreements made should be pointed out.
Since the objective of the counseling session is to arrive at an agreeable solution to the problem, the counselor should suggest or pass on the employer’s suggestions to the employee on how best the incident should be corrected. This includes the effective date when the corrective actions are to be implemented and how follow-ups are to be made to verify if the employee is committed to change.
A counseling form should also include any comments or issues raised by the employee. This consists of any disagreements or objections to the allegations raised against them.
As already established, continued poor performance can be detrimental to a business, and sometimes termination of employment could be the right course of action. Therefore, it is essential to state the eventual consequences of disregarding the corrective actions.
There should be a provision for the employee and the counselor/supervisor to sign at the bottom of the form. A signature is proof that the employee acknowledges the issue and the session and what was agreed in that meeting.
Development and Execution of a Follow-Up Plan
The employee and the counselor should come up with an action plan that resolves the issues discussed in the session. A strategy of implementing these actions should be developed, including the effective day when this should start. A follow-up program that shows genuine concern for the employee’s well-being and progress at work should be crafted. A follow-up schedule should be based on a routine of frequent actions. The interval duration should also be agreed on.
A follow-up plan, in simple words, evaluates the success of the session. If the issues persist, an employer could choose to call for another session or take the necessary actions that were agreed on during the previous meeting. There are various ways an employee can be evaluated; for example, if the issue was attendance, you can ask the employee to always sign at the receptionist desk or avail themselves at the human resource office upon reporting to work. The plan is often used by the human resources head to determine the effectiveness of the counseling sessions in a company. It can be used to identify the gaps in the counseling and company policies and determine unprecedented causes of issues within the company.
Free Employee Counselling Forms & Templates
Coming up with an employee counseling form every time you require one can be a monotonous and overwhelming task; therefore, we have provided free downloadable templates for you to download. Once you download, you can customize the template to fit your requirements. This reduces your workload to a great extent. Why go through the hustle of writing an employee counseling form when you are just a few clicks away from access to one? It’s easy! It’s fast! It’s convenient!
Tips on Conducting Employee Counseling
There a few things you can incorporate in your counseling session to make it successful. For example;
Be a good listener
Always listen to the employee’s remarks even if you disagree with them. As a good listener, waiting for the employee to finish their sentences before you can interject motivates them to share more. An occasional nod when listening can reassure them that you are paying attention to what they are saying. It is also important to make the employee aware that the session is being documented and what the counselor intends to do with the form. This creates an environment that invites honesty, and hence the employee would be compelled to share more.
Focus on the issue and not the person
Regardless of how major or trivial the issue may seem, the fact that it affects their performance, you should always strive to find a solution for it. Therefore, this should be your main focus throughout the session.
Focus on the employee’s strengths
While providing solutions, try to base them on the employee’s strengths as this helps improve their confidence and acts as a reminder of their capabilities. Remind the employee of the employer’s trust bestowed on them by allocating different roles and responsibilities within the company; such trust is a morale booster.
Give your input
Do not hesitate to give your opinion, for as a counselor, you provide a different set of eyes and perception to the issue at hand. This should come after understanding and analyzing the problem. Hasty advice should be avoided as it could be misleading. However, not all the solutions should come from you; the employee’s views should come into play, thus generating a sense of ownership in the final corrective action. This, in turn, raises their confidence in their capabilities.
Choosing the right Counselor
Ideally, the department supervisor should be the one to conduct the counseling session as they are more familiar with the employee and in a better position to notice changes in behavior and patterns in the working schedule. However, if the counseling form is to be handed to Human Resources, it is recommended that a HR member should be involved. This is often when the issues are paramount. A professional counselor’s services are required when the issues are identified to be substancial or mentally health-related.
Counseling is slowly becoming a significant part of our current society, and this is being reflected in businesses too. Challenges will always be present in a person’s life, and despite what one might be going through, they are expected to carry out their responsibilities at work with the same quality and intensity the employer requires. A good counseling session should help the employee get back on track and encourage them to perform up to their full potential.
Developing a good employee counseling form helps the counselor be objective when conducting a session. Listening is a vital aspect of counseling. Employers should use employee’s suggestions given during counseling to formulate company policies and guidelines to ease the process of implementation. A good follow plan plays a huge role in increasing the effectiveness of an employee’s counseling session. If well done, counseling can significantly improve employees’ productivity in a company, making it an essential part of today’s human resource management.