Coping with stressful situations can be difficult at the best of times.
Supporting coworkers who are trying to process the loss of a loved one, marital separation, addiction issues or other life circumstances can also be challenging. While one’s co-workers, managers – even business owners – may be supportive and well-intentioned, they may not be equipped to adequately help someone through a difficult time or crisis.
It’s an issue more companies are addressing as a way to invest in their employees’ health and well-being, says Kelsi Baine, executive director and certified counsellor with Upper Island Counselling in Campbell River. Having a professional outside agency on standby to help employees and their families manage difficult times can be a good short- and long-term strategy, she adds.
Putting the ‘human’ into HR
If you oversee human resources for your company, no matter what its size, knowing how to respond when a staff member needs personal help can be tricky. Baine says many of her member companies learned about UIC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program through conversations and referrals from other HR professionals.
“For those in HR, when someone is struggling in their office, they want to support them, but they recognize they’re not a counsellor,” Baine says. “So they want to have a trusted and effective resource they can suggest as a way to best help them. Sometimes we’ve heard that one HR director will tell another, ‘if you don’t have this resource in your back pocket, you’re missing out.’”
Getting people the help they need
Brian Cruise, of Cruise HR Solutions, works with employers on ways to better support their staff. He agrees managers often struggle to help employees deal with personal issues that may be affecting their work.
“Those of us in the HR world, we’re not trained counsellors, so you often hesitate to involve yourself with employees because it’s unfamiliar turf,” he says. Not only that, he adds, employees can be reluctant to divulge personal struggles fearing that doing so may reflect badly on their work performance. “People are much more likely to talk openly and honestly with someone not connected with their workplace.”
Healthy workers mean healthy companies
With company owners or upper management focusing on running the business, it’s often operational staff who initiate discussions about the need for outside resources, Baine says.
“Frontline workers know when something is going on in someone’s life that requires taking time off or the availability of counselling supports,” she says. “When requests for more supportive services come from the ground up, many employers are receptive – they see it as a wise investment in their people, and we couldn’t agree more.”
If you’d like to find out how Upper Island Counselling can help you, your family and the people you work with, visit uics.ca or call 250-287-2266.