Business is business, and all employees are entitled to privacy when it comes to their personal lives. But what happens when outside problems are impacting one's professional life?
Good HR practices are vital in these situations, as employees may not always be ready to share personal struggles with management; but if they are stressed and not performing well at work, they will have a definite impact. Employees exhibiting signs of outside stress need to be supported and facilitated in an appropriate way by management, as quickly and as sympathetically as possible.
Stress can quickly lead to a decline in work performance and diminishing coworker relationships. It is important that prompt action is taken by HR professionals to implement prompt and efficient solutions to help individuals going through a difficult time.
Recent research by Bensinger, DuPont & Associates states that 47 percent of all employees surveyed reported that the stress of a personal problem has impacted their work performance. This research is significant for all HR professionals, as this impact on work performance includes a wide range of symptoms, including difficulty concentrating, absenteeism through sick leave, poor work quality, an inability to complete tasks, conflict with management and coworkers and bad timekeeping.
No matter how professional an individual may be, there will be times in life when it is impossible to leave personal matters at the door, and these are the times that it is essential for companies to be aware of the best HR practices. Most companies that implement good HR practices will already have formal employee relations programs in place, and these will often be the starting point for engagement with employees in distress. Good employee relations programs will encourage a balance between work and personal life, and there may be room within this structure to offer flextime or a work from home option, even on a temporary basis.
Employees are entitled to privacy and confidentiality, so it is vital that a heavy-handed approach is not used when it comes to family matters. Issues that might arise include divorce, separation or the death of a close relative, and it is vital that the HR department respects the right of the employee to decide when to bring up sensitive issues with coworkers, if at all.
Communication is the key, and it is important that all employees are fully aware of the channels that they can go through if they wish to approach the HR department for help or advice. Employers will need to be careful of the precedents that they set, if they deal with an issue in a particular way with one employee, whether this is support during an illness, financial problems or issues with addiction. However, if low morale is obvious, immediate assistance may be needed, including compassionate leave or counseling, to help an individual get through a temporary situation.
The power of employees is the biggest asset for any company, and the more time and consideration that is invested in their welfare, the better the return for the business.
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