This article came in “HINDU” newspaper, Dt.17.06.2009, on the 5th page of ‘OPPORTUNITIES’, in Coimbatore edition, It was written by PAYAL CHANANIA. email@example.com
EMPLOYEES IN PERSONAL CRISIS MUST GET COMPANY SUPPORT.
It’s an accepted fact that employees are the number one resource of an organization. But they are first and foremost human beings and several personal factors can impact their performance.
Even the mere hint of a crisis will immediately affect the productivity level. It goes without saying those emergencies or other dire circumstances, like serious illness, injury, death of a near one or financial problems are extremely disruptive.
The emotional roller coaster ride can range from utter shock or disbelief to fear, helplessness, anger, frustration guilt and regret. The employee is often so overwhelmed with coping with the changes and new challenges that he may find it difficult to just concentrate on work or remember things, let alone made decisions.
As a workplace psychologist comments, “When people are distracted, they make more mistakes and work more slowly, if they are feeling depressed, their creativity will be down. If they are feeling depressed their creativity will be down. If they are feeling angry, they may project some of that anger onto co workers or even customers.
Companies cannot be so insensitive as to expect the affected worker to carry on work as usual while his life is spinning out of control. What employees needs is unwavering employer support to ride out such difficult and traumatic periods of their life. Else they may ultimately buckle under overburdening pressure leading to a total breakdown. On the other hand, offering even a little help and support will pay huge dividends and lasting loyalty.
Primarily, it is considered best to ask the employee what he actually needs to be able to cope and tried to provide the same facilities. Yet, here is a list of some basic and comprehensive strategies that will definitely help:
BREATHING SPACE: What employees need most is some leeway for adjusting to life after the traumatic personal crisis. The organization can help by allowing a temporary adjustment in their workload, expectations and deadlines. Some may even need certain flexibility in their work schedule like cutting back on work hours, flextime or part time work. This will also enable them to deal with practical demands like doctor visits, arranging childcare or looking for a new house.
TIME OFF: At times, the affected employee may require some time –off for court dates, last rites or recovery from illness. Temporary leave also becomes necessary if the employee finds himself unable to function at all. It would help immensely if the company grants the leave, possibly without drawing down the personal or vacation time.
BENEFITS: The organization should also provide reasonable work/life, childcare and legal benefits to assist employees and remind them of the same. This can range from on site baby care centers to flexible work hours and medical insurance coverage to company loan programs say for buying a house.
GENUINE CONCERN: Above all the employee will crave for some healing compassion and sensitivity during the stressful time. Managers can help by offering a shoulder to cry on and being a good listener as employee gives vent to his suppressed emotions. Acknowledging his feelings and reactions will show that the management cares for the employee and understands what he is going through.
Here, it would help the manger guides other workers and colleagues to support the upset employee and accommodate his work. But management should be careful to respect the feelings and privacy preferences of the employee.
PHYSICAL HEALTH: Keep prompting the employee to acknowledge his own needs and take proper care with sufficient food, rest sleep, and exercise. Else he will only end up weary and run down. Also, gently remind him that getting back to a routine can help contribute to the healing process.
HELP GROUPS: Directing the employee to help groups will show that he is not alone and there are many other people who have experienced similar situations. This can help him face to reality and come to terms with the event. As he starts feeling less isolated and more comforted, it will build a positive attitude and enable him to adapt to the new role.
THERAPY: As everyone responds to trauma in different ways, individual healing times may vary. Some employees may even be more severely affected than others. The organization can arrange psychological one to one counseling for employees who are otherwise unable to cope with personal crisis.
To sum up, management should show distressed employees that the company is with them every step of the way.
Compiled by PAYAL CHANANIA of “firstname.lastname@example.org”