By Yvonne Hignell, Care and Support Services Director
Everyone will go through a tough time at some point in their lives, as a result of events such as debt, bereavement or ill health. As work and personal life can often overlap, stress and worries in one area are likely to affect the other.
Whilst an employer should normally try to avoid getting involved in an employee’s personal life, you can still support them whilst they get themselves back on track.
There’s no definite way to tell is someone is having problems in their personal life, however a good place to start is by looking out for changes in their behaviour. These may include:
- Changes in productivity – when someone is stressed and distracted they may make uncharacteristic errors, miss deadlines and find it hard to concentrate
- Absenteeism and timekeeping – a noticeable increase in sick days may be a sign that all is not well at home. You may also notice someone taking longer lunch breaks or arriving late
- Working late – it might be that an employee who was once keen to leave on time is now making excuses to stay late in order to avoid going home
- Phone calls – is your employee nipping out to take more phone calls than usual? It is natural that people facing challenges at home can bring them into the workplace as they are keen to deal with them as quickly as possible
- Changes in mood – stress can cause normally mild-mannered individuals to begin snapping at their colleagues or an extrovert to suddenly retreat from social interaction. If someone seems more short-tempered, tearful or introverted than usual it, keep an eye on their behaviour and follow the steps below
What should you do?
If you’re concerned about an employee it’s important to treat them with sensitivity. Take them to one side for an informal one-to-one chat, making it clear that they have done nothing wrong, and ask if everything is OK.
Should their work have deteriorated, mention that you have seen a change in their work and ask if they are having any issues in the workplace. If so, try to address this as you would any other work-related issue.
If they open up to you about an issue at home:
- Listen to them and wait until they finish what they have to say
- Limit your conversation to how you can support them at work (e.g. reducing workload, compassionate leave) and avoid becoming directly involved
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep
- Arrange regular catch-ups so you can review their work and the support you provide to them.
- Let them know that they can contact Ben’s free and confidential helpline and online chat for further support and advice
Ben exists to provide support for life to the people of the automotive industry and their families. You can download a leaflet to print off and put on your noticeboard or leave in your staff room so colleagues are aware that we’re here to help them get back on track.