4 Strategies to Help Your People Through Hard Times

We all experience personal problems at some point in our lives, and sometimes those problems can also affect our work. According to a study by inc.com, 47% of employees admit that their personal problems can impact their performance at work. 

As a leader, you have to show empathy to someone who is going through personal problems while making sure that your team’s performance isn’t compromised. This is no easy task, but it can be done effectively.

Here are 4 strategies to consider when your employees’ work is being affected by personal matters:

1. Practice empathy, but be fair.

Empathy is essential both personally and professionally since it enables us to connect, be compassionate and understand others. People aren’t always comfortable telling their boss about their personal problems; but when empathy is part of your company culture, people will be more confident and comfortable approaching you when they’re going through challenges in their personal lives. Moreover, when you cultivate empathy in the workplace, you also build better rapport with employees⁠—the kind of relationships that will allow you to know them better and identify when they might be going through something before they even come to you. 

The way you treat an employee who is going through a personal crisis will not only affect the person because other employees will also take notice of how you treat that person. While your company may not be legally required to give an employee with a personal crisis a break during the day or even time off, you may want to consider it depending on what the situation entails. If and when you do this, you need to make sure that when you give one employee special treatment you plan to do the same for others. 

2. Listen and offer reasonable support, but don’t pry.

While you want to create a caring culture in the workplace, be careful not to ask for too many details about the issues they’re having. Respect their privacy while being empathetic to the troubles that they are going through. An effective leader is able to read and understand the needs of others without prying too much. 

Instead of digging deep into an employee’s personal troubles, focus on the specifics of their performance at work that have been impacted. This could be something like tardiness, lack of concentration at work or frequent absences without advance notice. The most important thing is to listen to what the employee has to say. You should give them a chance to explain how personal issues are affecting their work performance before making your own assumptions. 

Ask your employee how the company can provide assistance during this difficult period in their life. This way, you can figure out what the most appropriate type of support you can provide based on your employee’s needs and have a transparent conversation. And if your company has resources for employees to utilize, let them know.

3. Build a support system.

With your HR team, create a support system across your whole organization (if you don’t already have one). This will give employees a safety net and built-in support when a personal crisis happens. One way to implement this is by creating a Buddy system for employees, a strategy for employees to meet new people within the company and also create a bond where they feel comfortable checking in with each other. Providing a well-being program for employees has resulted in numerous benefits for companies including increased productivity and reduced health care cost.

4. Check in with your people regularly.

Make sure to do an occasional pulse check with your employee to see how they are doing. You can send a short email or drop by their desk every once in a while. This will give you a sense of how they are faring and will show them that you really do care about how they’re doing day-to-day. 

Checking in with your people is not only recommended when someone is going through a personal crisis. Asking simple questions to check in with your people like how you can support them and how they are feeling can make a huge difference in keeping your business relevant, functional and, most of all, human. 

There are long-term benefits of showing your employees you care.

Remember that when you’re leading a team, you’re not just running a business: You’re working with people who have lives outside of work too. In one way or another, your employees’ personal lives are intertwined with their work. You should find a way to be there for them through the good and bad times in their life, even if it makes a small impact. 

Taking care of your employees’ well-being is not just the right thing to do. It’s what every humanized business should do. Research reveals that caring about employees actually correlates with success in business. One of the reasons behind this is simple: When you take care of your people, they will take care of your business. 

For more on how to humanize your business, tune in to the UNprofessional podcast and join our network by subscribing to join our community of whole-hearted meaning makers who are set out to make business more kind, compassionate and empathetic. 

We’re celebrating 30 episodes this week and have more content coming your way this week. Last week, we had Culture Consultant, Courtney Branson, on to talk about navigating the vaccination conversation at work

Our guest this week is my former boss at Toyota, Asia Pacific General Manager, Tatsushi Komatsu, who knows the benefits of Kaizen and how it leads to businesses becoming more humanized. See you on Thursday! 

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna

Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


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I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



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