Hire an internal or external confidant?

Within an organisation, confidential counsellors have an important role. Their function is to offer a listening ear to employees who are confronted with integrity violations, or are victims of undesirable behaviour. The confidant helps de-escalate undesirable behaviour so that problems do not grow out of proportion. In this way, confidant contributes to a safe working environment for everyone. In this profession, a distinction is made between internal and external confidential counsellors. We weigh up the pros and cons for employers so that you can make the right decision should you consider a confidential counsellor.

Internal confidant

An internal confidential counsellor is an employee who is already working within the organisation. In this case, this employee is a confidant in addition to his/her own position. This person is trained and obtains certificates to take on the role of confidant. The intention is for the confidential advisor to be autonomous and report directly to the management if necessary. If you choose to appoint an in-house one, take into account the following scenario:

Office manager Sophie and account manager Merlijn have a conflict with each other. Merlijn would like to talk about it with a confidant, but it now turns out that Sophie is this internal confidant. As a result, Merlijn needs to talk to an external confidant.

Especially smaller companies with fewer employees are more likely to encounter this problem. The smaller the company, the more difficult it becomes with the independence of the confidential advisor. In this case, you may choose to hire an external confidential advisor on a one-off basis.

Advantages and disadvantages internal trustee

The fact is that an internal confidant knows the company culture well, so he/she can spot problems earlier and is easy to find among colleagues. They take this person into their confidence more easily, which can lower the threshold for making contact. However, this has a downside. Because the confidant is an acquaintance of the employee, it can actually be more difficult to discuss confidential information with him/her. In addition, it may be difficult for the internal confidant to look at the situation objectively.

A conflict of interest may arise between the fiduciary's role and his/her other function. Neglect of one or both roles may result from this. In addition, it costs time and money to retrain an employee to be a confidant. Then there is also a chance that the internal confidential advisor will quit his/her job, resulting in the organisation having to invest time and money in a new employee again.

Pros and cons of external fiduciaries

Organisations can also use an external confidential advisor. This person works outside the organisation and only fulfils the role of a confidential counsellor. He/she is affiliated to an organisation that specialises in this. Your employees can call on the confidant whenever necessary. Because an external confidant has no direct function within the company, this person is independent and can therefore more easily adopt an objective stance. In addition, the employer does not have to invest in costs for further training. You are also assured of professional help and most up-to-date knowledge.

Combination of both internal and external confidential counsellors

Companies are also increasingly choosing to hire both an internal and external confidential advisor. This combination gives employees the opportunity to choose who they will talk to.

Do they prefer to do it with a colleague, or do they prefer to do it with an outside person? This way, as an employer, you avoid any problems concerns internal confidants, as mentioned earlier. When weighing up all the options, this seems to be the best options for many companies. Because employees can make their own choice of whether to talk to an internal or external confidant, the threshold for starting a conversation may be lower. In addition, in the absence of the internal confidant, this absence is easily resolved by the external confidant. The confidants can also cooperate with each other, spar or consult with each other if necessary.

Inform your employees

Once you have tied the knot, it is time to inform your employees. According to research by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, it appears that it is not always clear to employees that companies employ a confidential advisor. You cannot reiterate often enough that a confidant is available should the need arise. Therefore, share the contact details of the confidant and discuss the role of the confidant with your colleagues.

Get in touch

Many companies are struggling to comply with this new legislation, when a trustee becomes mandatory for all companies. For this reason, we have designed membership for SMEs. This ensures that you comply with the new legislation, employ an external confidential advisor and do not spend more than necessary. Contact us for more information.