By Deborah S. Hildebrand,
HR Consultant, JorgensenHR
Employee productivity is important to the success of any business. Yet productivity can be negatively impacted if an employee is feeling stressed about issues that are occurring in their lives either on -- the ambiguity of changes at work -- or off -- the loss of a loved one -- the job. That’s why a good manager and strong employer support can be invaluable in helping an employee deal with difficulties and maintain productivity.
So how can you, as a manager, provide your team with the type of support they need? Here are some helpful tips:
- Be observant. Get to know your staff well enough to be able to pick up on subtle changes in their moods or behavior.
- Be compassionate. Offer your support, however, understand if it isn’t immediately welcome.
- Be open. Provide a safe harbor. Even if an employee is not immediately receptive to your inquiries, leave the door open for them to come to you.
- Be knowledgeable. Know what options are available to employees who need assistance for difficult work and/or home situations. Understand, or know where to get information, on available internal benefits or programs.
- Be prepared. This is the toughest part of all. If productivity declines or if other performance issues develop, your role as a leader is to deal with the situation in an effective, professional manner. Left unattended, it could fester and impact the morale and productivity of the rest of the team.
Strong employer support is equally important. While benefits and programs available to employees will vary from employer to employer, here are some ideas your organization might want to consider:
- Time off
Time off programs are more the norm these days, however, they vary in form from vacation and sick leave pay to paid or unpaid leaves of absence and bereavement pay. Depending on the employee’s issue, time off may be an appropriate method of dealing with a difficult situation.
An Employee Assistance Program is designed to work with employees to identify, manage, and resolve employee problems associated with personal difficulties such as change or stress.
- Work/Life Balance
Sometimes employees find themselves trying to seamlessly integrate their home and work lives with little success. Programs that employers can make available that may help this situation include flextime, job sharing or part-time employment, telecommuting, or alternative work schedules.
- Benefit Plans
Sometimes employers offer a variety of benefit plans that may provide just the right kind of coverage to help out in a difficult situation. Medical insurance plans may cover certain useful services – counseling if no EAP is available – or perhaps the company offers a 401k with loan options for financial hardships.
“Extras” include some of the more unusual approaches to providing a reduced-stress work environment such as gym membership where employees can “work out” their frustrations, on-site massage therapy, and brown bag lunches where speakers can discuss a variety of topics including stress and time management.
Whatever actions you take as a manager or employer, it is important that you not overlook the very real impact that stress from any source can have on employees.
For further information on stress-reducing benefit programs, their design and implementation, employee and management coaching, or any other questions regarding this article, please contact Karen Jorgensen, MBA, President, JorgensenHR at (818) 790-1720 or KJorgensen@JorgensenHR.com.