News Flash

Career Management, and Employee Counseling

As a result of organizational actions such as downsizing and outsourcing, the employment relationship has changed to one in which paternalism has more generally given way to an exchange relationships for the mutual benefit of both parties, from a promise of long-term security to a situation where employee have the primary responsibility for their own future, and from entitlement to the goal of obtaining opportunities to remain employable.

  • Stage views of ¬†development
  • Traditional models of career development
  • Contemporary views of career development
  • Organizationally oriented career management models
  • Roles in career management
  • Self-assessment tools and activities
  • Individual counseling or career discussions


Employee Counseling

Personal problems are a part of life. Stress, drug abuse, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, mental illness, emotional problems abound in modern society. Whether these problems are chromic, or situational, as in the case of financial problems, they can affect behavior at work as well as one’s personal life. Such problems contribute to accidents, absenteeism, and turnover, poor decisions, decreases in productivity, and increased costs. Estimates of losses incurred due to problems experienced by troubled workers are staggering. One estimates placed the lost productivity costs at over $100 billion dollars annually.

Another factor promoting organizational interest in employees’ well-being is a shortage of skilled workers. How are organizations addressing the issue of employee well-being? In addition to traditional HR programs like training and motivational programs organizations are also making major investment in providing employee counseling services as a way to promote employees’ well-being.

  • Characteristics of effective employee counseling programs
  • Employee assistance programs
  • The EAP approach to resolving employee personal problems
  • A model of stress management intervention
  • Effectiveness of employee counseling interventions
  • Whose responsibility is employee counseling?
  • Ethical and legal issues in employee counseling


Organizationally Oriented Career Management Models

These models share the idea that the organization’s structure and needs provide opportunities for the organization’s career management system and should guide it.


The Pluralistic Approach

Operationally, there are three types of pluralistic career management methods:
1) Counseling, 2) individual career development program contracts, and 3) a cafeteria approach that includes a variety of “career-track options, training opportunities, performance evaluation schemes, and reward systems.”

A System View of Career Management

There are three main elements of career development system 1) the people system, which includes the activities involved in selecting, numbering, and motivating human resources, 2) the job market system, which includes the structure for developmental opportunities, and 3) the management and information system, which facilitates the exchange of people, ideas, and information.

Team-Based Career Development

Basic attributes of a team career model include the following:

  • Team members serve as role models
  • Teams reward behaviors that enhance team performance and growth, and personal growth and development
  • Teams determine training opportunities for both the team and for individuals
  • The team moves collectively to higher organizational levels
  • People move laterally within the team
  • The organization evaluates the team, the team evaluates the individual


Self-Assessment Tools

Self-assessment activities, such as self-study workbooks or career and retirement planning workshops, focus on providing employees with a systematic way to identify capabilities and career performance. Self-assessment is best used as a first step in the career management process (i.e., at the stage of self-exploration), rather than as the only activity in a career management program.

Career planning workshops provide a structured experience in which participants develop, share, and discuss personal information about their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and values. Self-discovery through discussions with the facilitator and other participants, identification of possible career direction and opportunities, and career goal setting.

If performed effectively, self-assessment activities can provide an individual with sound basis on which to develop realistic career goals and strategies.

Characteristics of Effective Employee Counseling Programs

For your employee counseling program to be effective, it is critical that you tell people about it and follow up with them. By communicating with managers, supervisors, and employees about the services the program offers, they may be more likely to use it when they have need for it.

Necessary ingredients for an effective counseling program include:

  • Top management commitment and support
  • A clearly written set of polices and procedures outlining the program’s purpose and its function within the organization
  • Cooperation with local union(s), if they are present in the organization
  • A range of care (e.g., referral to community resources, follow-up)
  • A clear and well-enforced policy concerning employee confidentiality
  • Maintenance of records for program evaluation
  • Health insurance benefits coverage for services
  • Family education

Stress Management Interventions

In 1995, it was estimated that 37 percent of work sites with 50 or more employees (including 79 percent of work sites with 750 or more employees) offered some sort of stress management information or stress reduction program. By 2010, this figure is expected to above 50 percent. The techniques used to treat exclusive stress vary widely, including such activities as education, time management, physical exercise assertiveness training, biofeedback, meditation, and communications training.

A model of stress management programs or interventions (SMIs)

SMIs can be categorized as either educational or skill acquisition oriented. Educational interventions are designed to inform the employee about the sources of stress, what stress feels like, how stressors can be avoided, and how the individual can better cope with stress. Skill-acquisition interventions, such as time management or assertiveness training, are designed to provide employees with new ways to cope with stressors.

Who’s Responsibility is Employee Counseling?

Employees, the organization, supervisors, and unions all have a role to play in employee well-being.

The individual bears primary responsibility for his or her own well-being, given the impact of lifestyle choices on health and longevity, individuals are ultimately responsible for the course of their lives. Finally, supervisors and managers play a key role in the effectiveness of any employee counseling effort-because supervisors are in regular contact with employees, are responsible for their development and evaluation, and are ultimately held responsible for their performance, they occupy a unique position in the counseling process.