In this issue

BACP Workplace membership survey 2009
Kevin Friery and Rick Hughes reflect on the findings

Workplace harassment: generic or a result of context?
Dr Michael Walton looks at the motives

Becoming research practitioners: freedom and values
Fiona Gardner, Steven J Coombs and Amanda Larcombe reflect on the opportunities

Weathering the storm
Resilient managers thrive during a recession, explains Maurice Quinlan

Assessing pressure in the workplace
Gill Thurgood and Karen Crampin champion resilience training to combat pressures at work

Meet the BACP Workplace executive

Promoting mental wellbeing at work
Public health guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Criminal Justice Forum
Details of a new BACP initiative

Divisional news and chair’s report

Cover of Counselling at Work, Winter 2009-10

Articles from this issue are not yet available online. Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf from the BACP Workplace archive.

First words

As I write, the country is snug under a blanket of snow and we are obsessed by news reports of Siberian weather fronts streaming in from the continent, together with associated traffic chaos – lightened slightly by footage of the odd car performing an unprompted Torvill and Dean number on an ungritted residential road.

Apparently some nine million people tuned in to the BBC news last night, no doubt oohing and aahing at countrywide reports of this much snow here and that much snow there. As I complain about this national preoccupation with the weather, I realise I am happily colluding with it as I repeatedly inspect my outdoor thermometer with one of those nifty indoor digital readouts that implies it is far too cold to do anything other than repeatedly inspect my outdoor thermometer. It reached -14.5°C last week.

But there always seem to be winners and losers. The winners seem to be the school kids ‘forced’ to stay at home, make snowmen (or is it snowpersons?) and terrorise passersby, already unsteady on their feet, with volleys of crunchy snowballs. The losers are possibly parents who need to take time off to look after their kids. But maybe they are not losers. Perhaps their employers offer progressive flexitime options together with policies that advise on what to do in the advent of adverse weather, allowing those stuck at home to continue to contribute to work. And to those people suffering domestic strife from post-Christmas bickering partners and families, or pending laden credit card statements, then there might be workplace counselling or EAP services available once they do return to work, or as part of a rehabilitation strategy to facilitate a return to work programme.

Comfortingly, we hear of an increasing number of organisations that are listening more closely to the needs of their employees. And wellbeing in the workplace (both ‘mental’ and physical) is getting more widespread recognition at board level. These debilitating weather conditions themselves will test organisations and their ability to support their staff. If they get it right, the employer is likely to be met with a more engaged, committed, satisfied and productive workforce.

I am delighted to welcome back Dr Michael Walton who writes about harassment as a threat to wellbeing and whether it is generic or as a result of context. It gets you thinking. Many of you will be familiar with Michael through his seminal text (with Michael Carroll) Handbook of counselling in organisations.

Thanks also to Fiona Gardner, Steven Coombs and former ACW executive member, Amanda Larcombe, who join together to write a fascinating article on the value and importance of researching workplace counselling – and which is specifically written for the practitioner. Not only is this a personal perspective from the authors, written in a way that peeks through the sometimes secluded therapeutic world, but it is also hot on the heels of a book they have recently published. 

In the most recent BACP Workplace e-bulletin, we sent out a call for book reviewers for several publications. The Gardner/Coombs book received by far the most number of offers from budding reviewers. Thanks to all who put themselves forward for this book and the two others featured. Please keep an eye out for future e-bulletins and calls for book reviewers – it is strictly first come, first served. 

We also start the New Year with an introduction to the hard-working volunteers who make up the BACP Workplace executive committee. Of course, many of them will need no introduction but we wanted to formally profile the team so you can see who they are, their backgrounds, experiences and skills and how they are contributing to the division.

It is also great to forge links with our Irish counterparts and to welcome Maurice Quinlan who heads the EAP Institute in Dublin. Maurice is a powerful champion of employee support provision and his events attract delegates from all over the UK and beyond. Here, as a prelude to a seminar on the same theme, he writes about how resilient managers thrive during recessions. This notion is further expanded upon by Gill Thurgood and Karen Crampin of empowerME2 who introduce pressure in the workplace in relation to resilience. Many thanks to Gill and Karen.

And finally, as promised, we have the results of the BACP Workplace membership survey. This generated a fascinating insight into the views and opinions of the members who kindly responded. BACP Workplace will spend time reflecting on the feedback and will endeavour to take action and respond to the results. It really does raise the temperature on what the division can do to better meet the needs of members, the wider workplace counselling community, users, providers and funders.

Speaking of which, my thermometer is now reading a paltry -4.5°C. Tropical.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Rick Hughes