It’s Business And Personal: What Can We Do To Support An Employee Through A Crisis?

Conflicts in the workplace are numerous, too numerous to count. And with conflict comes a conflict of interest. From the perspective of the employers, when there is a member of staff who is struggling, performance wise, when they didn't before, it's their responsibility to get to the bottom of this. But what if the underlying issue is, not just a personal problem, like stress, but it's something that’s incredibly damaging, like substance abuse? How can we balance this conflict of interest and ensure that we are doing what we can for the employee but also protect our business?

Should You Immediately Wash Your Hands Of Them?

Naturally, when an employee has broken the rules, thought can immediately turn to getting rid of them. But with a conflict of interest that arises, especially when you have a worker that's been, not just a productive member of staff, but they have actively benefitted your business in more ways than you can imagine, the difficulty in getting rid of them could immediately put your business productivity at a disadvantage. Rules and regulations stipulate that if we have an employee caught engaging in illegal acts, this results in instant dismissal. But it can be heartbreaking to see someone destroy themselves like this. But what can we do for them at this juncture?

Offering Emotional Support

In the workplace, we have a duty of care to our employees, and if they've broken the rules many times before, we can feel that they are a liability. But before we get to this point, we have to ensure that we've done everything we can in terms of supporting them. Every organization has their own support structure, HR policies and one-to-one meetings that put in place a framework to give the employee the support they demand, but sometimes we need a little bit more than that. From your perspective, this disparity in running an effective business, but also looking after the welfare of your employees can feel like a tug of war. The business comes first, and we have to come to terms with this. It can feel like such an overused sentiment…

It's not personal, just business

But when this isn't justification enough, we have to step in and ensure that we are giving our employees that little bit extra. It depends on the type of person you really are. You may not be one for second chances, but if you give a little bit more to your employees, especially when they have so much potential, this could be the difference that tips the scale, not just in your favor, but your overall business dealings. Emotional support is important for the welfare of our employees because they can feel that we aren't there for them in a personal sense. After all, the modern workplace is bound by so many criteria, and when you throw into the mix targets and deadlines, it's hardly a surprise that so many of us feel that work comes first, and when we have employees that are supremely work focused, it makes for a very impersonal working environment. This breeds a culture that isn't very holistic. You need to lead by example, and if you have an employee going through a personal crisis like addiction or substance abuse, this is time to show your true colors.

Using It To Improve The Workplace

While we are on the lookout for our employees in a personal sense, there has to be a point where we have to step away from certain conflict. The business comes first, and we need to implement a positive culture, one that's supportive of our workers, but we still need them to abide by the rules. And this is where the three strikes policy works well. If you have an employee that’s struggling with substance abuse, and you help them get through this, the amount of trust you have put in them can be easily undone if they relapse. There are drug test kits for businesses provided by companies like Rapid Detect, and you are well within your rights to provide spot tests. This is a way to keep track of your employee’s progress, especially if they've been through the rehabilitation process. But it's not just the strict measures you can employ to keep your workers on the straight and narrow, using emotional and professional support to improve the workplace environment is what can inspire trust in a holistic sense. This holistic working environment is something that many modern workplaces are striving to achieve, and if you have an employee that’s struggling, either with a substance problem, a personal crisis, or an illness, it's not just about the HR procedures, but your management skills are put to the test. Your employees will realize exactly how adept you are at problem-solving when something like this comes up. And this is where you have to prove your worth.

Supporting an employee through a personal crisis is a challenge unlike any other in the workplace. We can very easily rely on HR infrastructure to do the work for us, but if we've got an employee who is really struggling, do we let the system deal with them, or do we go one step further? Because if we spot someone who has the potential to go far, but there is a devil on their shoulder, we can easily wash our hands of them and adopt that stern business attitude. While this is all well and good when it comes to getting the numbers, are you going to have a working environment and culture that is supportive? If you don't want a supportive environment for your employees, then carry on, and lean on the rules and regulations. But if you're looking for a workplace that looks after its employees, and you pride yourself on keeping workers happy, supporting them through a personal crisis is what will separate you from the other self-absorbed middle management types that are only in it for themselves. We certainly have a very selfish business world out there, but when someone comes to you and they need help, which way are you going to turn?