Seeing the bigger picture at work
Counsellors are constantly challenged when working with people, by the need to 'see' things as they are, and the person in their circumstances. This is most apparent when working with employees struggling in their jobs.
A study conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Workplace Conditions found that people, not machines or technology, are responsible for most of the stress suffered in the workplace. Perhaps as much as half of work-related stress is caused by harassment and bullying. The consequences for the victims are devastating, affecting their mental and physical health, self-esteem and performance at work. Many other colleagues are affected if only indirectly, covering for sick absence, handling on-going tensions and much more.
Policy makers, managers and all colleagues in the organisation have responsibilities. At the most basic and general level everyone has a choice to ignore or address inappropriate behaviour: but it is always the case that unchallenged behaviour doesn’t change. Those seeking to address harassment or bullying have invariably found collective action to be more likely to bring success. As with so many situations involving people and relationships, remedies are not always straightforward. However, seeing the individual experiencing the harassment as being the only one responsible for remedial action is to risk adopting a limited view.
When referred for counselling, employees can benefit greatly from considering their responsibilities and who amongst their colleagues and managers can help to alleviate their situation at work. Counsellors and therapists need to ensure that they take account of the bigger picture when helping someone who has struggled with harassment and bullying in the workplace.
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