In a perfect world, work life and personal life would remain separate and never interfere with each other. But as human beings, employees are bound to endure personal issues that will at some point affect their work life and require certain accommodations to allow them to deal with the issue at hand. While employers aren’t therapists, their job will become much easier and the quality of their company morale is likely to be much better if they know the right ways to deal with personal issues in the workplace. Here are some important guidelines for employers to follow when addressing personal issues in the workplace:
1) Don’t get too closely involved
While you won’t be able to entirely ignore certain personal problems employees deal with such as a sick family member, divorce, psychological problems or addiction issues, the fewer details you know, the better. Don’t try to become their confidant or counselor, which is only likely to blur the employer/employee boundaries and make it more difficult for you to do your job. Instead, when personal issues crop up in the workplace, simply make necessary arrangements (such as time off) to allow employees to deal with them, or refer them to the appropriate resources that will give them the support they need. Larger companies have employee assistance programs for this purpose, which give employees the support they need to overcome crises, while lessening the disruption it would otherwise cause in company operations.
2) Avoid making judgements or accusations
Regardless of whether or not you are in the loop regarding your employee’s personal issue, be sure that the only comments you make are concerning their work performance and any arrangements that need to be made that will ensure their work gets done (whether it’s by them or another employee) and seeing they get the help they need. Particularly if you are not aware of what the employee is dealing with, do not voice any assumptions you may have when it comes to personal issues in the workplace.
3) Be accommodating, yet fair
To a reasonable extent, it is beneficial for an employer to show compassion and do what they can to make the employee’s life easier when dealing with personal issues in the workplace. For example, an employee that is going through a health crisis may need certain days off or to leave early on occasion. It also may help the employee feel more at ease in the workplace if you check in with the employee every so often to see how they are doing. But be aware that whatever accommodations you make for that employee, you should be prepared to make for other employees that go through similar challenges at any point in the future.
4) Be sure employee’s workload isn’t adding to their stress
While anything and everything can seem more difficult when someone is going through tough personal problems, it is definitely worth assessing the workload you are assigning your employee to make sure that they aren’t overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s when personal issues arise in the workplace that an already overworked employee can begin to crack. If the only problem is something serious that is going on in the employee’s personal life, and not the job itself, see if their work can be temporarily lightened and assigned elsewhere until they resolve the issue and can resume their normal schedule.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.