How to Manage an Employee Who’s Having a Personal Crisis

stressed employee

If we learned anything from the mundanity of 2020, we surely learned how life can be turned completely upside down from one day to another. There’s a lot of pressure that builds up in our daily lives and sometimes it seems like work and our professional routines are simply getting in the way of all the other things we simply have to get done.

From laundry tasks to paying the bills, making sure you get 8hrs of sleep and ensure that you eat your fair portion of fruit and veggies – not to mention exercise, an ‘errand’ we often forget and leave on the back burner for a day when life calms down a little.

Everyone experiences these rough patches, but it’s fair to say that some of our employees find it difficult to accept and adapt to their chaotic lifestyle, much harder than others. As employers and mentors in a business, we need to learn how to approach certain situations with empathy, compassion and kindness, while keeping our professional stature and ensuring that our companies do not go under with a sinking ship employee.

What is employee crisis management?

Employee crisis management is all about the method in which a superior within a company addresses an employee or partner when they are going through a difficult period in life. This is not one of the most glamorous parts of the job, in fact, it could be a painstakingly difficult practice that could bring you, the manager, down too.

Learning the correct approaches could help you give your employees the comfort they need while keeping you in ship shape order to lead your crew. But there are different kinds of workplace crises that could strike, would you handle each crisis in the same way?

What sort of workplace crisis could happen at the office?

Some of the crises that could take place in the workplace include:

  • Natural disasters could affect certain people in different ways, bringing a melancholic worry to their daily life, it could also be linked to fear or past trauma.
  • Death in the family, workplace or circle of friends could bring about a personal crisis that could very easily take over your focus and time from a job.
  • Redundancy, loss of job or financial issues of a spouse, partner or even personal job loss could bring your employees to a dark place that you as a manager should be able to empathise with.
  • Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest contributors to a crisis in the workplace and will easily throw off the flow and motivation of a team player, easily effecting the entire team to which they belong too.
  • Abuse, harassment or unfair treatment are all crises points that will trigger your employees into irregular behaviour.

All of these cases and incidences should be tackled with a professional psychiatrist or psychologist – your role as a manager is support, understanding and acceptance.

How should a manager respond to an employees personal crisis?

Generally, you’d expect to hear that there’s no right or wrong way of showing someone that you care, but in a professional environment, there are a lot of red flags you’ll need to be clear on.

Here’s how you can effectively support your colleagues in crisis:

Make yourself available to your team

This is not about a ‘door’s always open policy’, it branches out far more than that. It’s more about the work environment that you nurture in your company; an environment of compassion and proactivity in responding to employee crisis; giving your staff the freedom to talk to you whenever they need. Transparency and honesty are key here.

Don’t be too involved, give your team space

While you may like to be as involved with your staff as possible, there’s a limit as to how much you can say and do for your employees. You are their manager after all, and like it or not, some of their hang-ups might be work-related. You’ll need to gauge a balance between prying and showing empathy, and every employee will react differently. This is a learning game.

Listening to your team is key, learn to talk less

There’s nothing worse than an employee or partner coming to you with a problem, to find themselves listening to your advice more than they’ll be able to discuss their issues. Listen to what their issues are before you suggest every solution under the sun. You might be barking up the wrong tree.

Don’t make false promises, your team won’t trust you otherwise

There are often certain limits to what you can make happen for your employees. If a solution is within your power, go ahead and offer it, but if you’ll need to check finances, get higher approval or even see if the offer is possible at all, refrain from making promises you can’t keep.

Check-in with your team regularly

You shouldn’t leave the weekly or monthly checkups for when things go wrong. Ask your team how they are coping with their work-life balance, ask them if they’re doing OK and most importantly react to their response in a professional yet compassionate manner. Workload could be one of the biggest factors in causing an employee crisis – make sure this is not the case for your team.

At the end of the day, you, as an employer, manager, boss or director, will need to be the support for your team. Every employee battles a crisis in a different way and there are means and ways on how you should tackle them. You may find that some of your staff do not feel comfortable talking to you directly about an issue, but you need to remember not to take it personally.

Our teams are made up of different characters, making their way through different paths and while being supportive and encouraging is the right way to go, some matters may be too personal to share with a colleague, leaving your staff resistant to your advice and empathy.

Read every situation carefully and whenever possible, employ professional help to keep your team mentally and emotionally equipped to carry out the jobs they were employed to do.


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