As one of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s top staffing firms, we know that most employees at one time or another face personal problems at home that could impact their job performance. However, with the economic crunch and the cost of living on the rise, more and more of today’s workers are facing some seriously stressful situations – and sometimes it’s hard to keep those feelings out of the workplace.
Some signs of trouble include:
- Regular tardiness
- Excessive absenteeism
- Patterned absenteeism (such as calling in sick every Friday and Monday)
- Spending too much time on the phone to deal with personal issues
- Outward signs of stress and anxiety
- Tearfulness or emotional outbursts
- Changes in relationships with co-workers
If you see some or all of theses signs demonstrated by an employee, how should you, as a manager, cope?
Understand we’re all human.
If Mike, who’s typically even-keeled in his temperament, has an emotional outburst one day, don’t presume he’s having personal problems or take his attitude personally. Just ask, “Are you ok today?” Then listen to his response. Maybe he’s simply stressed out by a big project and needs an afternoon off, rather than pushing through.
That said, you are not a psychologist, nor are you a marriage counselor. So if Mike tells you he’s having problems at home, then it’s important to maintain boundaries.
If there is something you can do to make his work environment less stressful, such as pushing back a deadline, then discuss those kinds of solutions. However, if he is truly having personal issues, refer him to HR, who can determine if he is eligible for a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or to your company’s Employee Assistance Program if you have one.
Mind your language.
Don’t characterize an employee’s emotional or physical state by saying something like “You seem depressed,” or “You seem drunk.” The Americans With Disabilities Act covers both alcoholism and depression and if that employee is terminated, they could sue under ADA by claiming they were fired due to a perceived disability.
Don’t be overly sympathetic either.
While it’s natural to be concerned about an employee who’s facing personal problems, don’t let that lead you to make statements like “Your job is safe, don’t worry.” If that employee has to be let go, they can use those statements as evidence in a lawsuit.
As one of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s top staffing firms, we know that how you deal with the situation really depends on the severity of the problem or problems the employee is facing. Perhaps they simply need a few days off work; if they are facing medical problems, maybe they do need to take a leave of absence (Read this post about tips for fighting FMLA abuse); or possibly they’re simply unable to separate work from home and therefore incapable of delivering the results your company requires.