So, you seem to have everything in order for your staff – on paper at least. Policies have been formulated for all the important themes within your organisation, including the appointment of a Confidential Counsellor. Do you then breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that you, as an employer, have everything order and no longer have anything to worry about? Well, too bad, because a Confidential Counsellor is not an escape-hatch.
It is not enough to tell your employees that there is an escape-hatch, because they also need to know where it is and in which situations they may need it. That is your responsibility as an employer. So, you need to do the same when it comes to the Confidential Counsellor by asking your employees if they know where the Confidential Counsellor can be found and when they can approach them.
Employees can turn to a Confidential Counsellor if they experience any kind of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, including bullying, (sexual) harassment or discrimination. For example: An employee goes home at 5 p.m. “So, did you have a nice afternoon off?” a colleague jokes the next day. Or perhaps, two employees regularly make fun of a less assertive colleague. The colleague in question laughs along uncomfortably but does not feel safe enough to state his boundaries. “Oh well, a joke every now and then should be possible, right?” Well, there is only one answer to that: No one should cross another person’s boundaries, ever.
You may now say, “When something like this happens, my door is always open,” because you are very approachable. You think? What you may not realize is that emblazoned across your forehead in capital letters are the words: THE BOSS. To you the label’s invisible but, to the employee it’s anything but. And, it certainly raises the threshold if an employee wants to discuss something with you that they feel uncomfortable about – because bringing something to the attention of the boss always means there are consequences. After all, as an employer you have to take responsibility and you can’t listen to such a story without doing something about it. But, maybe the employee just wants to talk, without immediately setting the ball rolling.
As an employer, you should ensure there is a safe haven, a place where reporters of transgressive behaviour can tell their story. Engaging a Confidential Counsellor means you can offer such a place. If you can already tick that box, then great! – But, don’t just leave it there. Be sure to introduce the Confidential Counsellor to the employees; explain for what kind of issues they can turn to them for help; and assure them that anything they say there will stay in that room. It’s entirely up to them to decide whether they just want to tell their story without any follow-up, or if they do want action to be taken. So, be sure to make it clear to the reporting party that they themselves are in control and no one else.
The Confidential Counsellor can be a specially trained employee within your organization, but you can also opt for an external Confidential Counsellor – one of our experts from ROTS van Leeuwen, for example. At ROTS van Leeuwen, we believe that safety is the cornerstone of any healthy, successful organization. Our Confidential Counsellors think along and offer advice. They provide information to increase awareness of transgressive behaviour and to help ensure its prevention. And, if something does go wrong, we are there to offer our expert support to the reporting party, in a professional, yet tactful, manner.
The best of both worlds is, actually, the combination of both an internal and an external Confidential Counsellor. This allows your employees to choose who they feel most comfortable with. In certain, more complex cases, an external Confidential Counsellor can also be an important sounding board for your internal Confidential Counsellor, combining their internal knowledge about your organization with a fresh outside perspective.
Organizations can purchase our Confidential Counselling Service Package, which includes three elements:
You can find more information about our organization and our confidential counselling service package at www.vertrouwenspersonen.online.
To finish where we started: Don’t just arrange that figurative escape-hatch. Instead, explain where it can be found and in what situations your employees can use it – just like the annual fire drill.
And, remember that an organisation without a Confidential Advisor is no longer in keeping with current management standards or practices, just like an organisation without an ICT department – both are stuck firmly in the past…