What do you do when employees’ personal issues are affecting their work performance? While understandably you may not want to discuss personal issues with employees, you can’t ignore them.
Failing to address those problems can cause employees’ productivity and morale to drop. However, if you are supportive and empathetic, you build employees’ trust in you and their loyalty to the organization. Follow these steps when employees share their crises with you:
- Go somewhere private. If you are within earshot of anyone else, go to a room where you can close the door and talk privately.
- Listen—actively. Let employees fully explain their situation. Don’t pry; simply let them share as much as they want to.
- Don’t offer advice. It’s not up to you to tell employees how to resolve their problems, and doing so can land you in hot water. Instead, empathize with the person. Say “I understand that this must be very difficult for you.”
- Refocus on work. Explain how the situation is affecting the employees’ work and that while you need to see improvements, you want to do what you can to help the person at work.
- Ask what they need from you. It could be as simple as giving them flexibility with their hours for the short term while they sort out their problems. Consider all realistic requests and speak with your boss or HR to make short-term arrangements to accommodate employees if possible.
- Set expectations. Explain that while you realize that they are going through a hard time, you need them to improve their performance and contribute at a high level. Set goals and deadlines for getting back on track.
- Monitor the situation. If you don’t see improvements, you may need to consider termination. Consult with your HR and legal departments to determine a course of action.
— Adapted from “When Personal Issues Invade the Workplace,” David Price, www.ftadviser.com.