Your company is only ever as good as the employees you have working for you, and when the business is running smoothly, you workers are your greatest assets. If, however, a key employee is undergoing some form of crisis, this can impact not only their own life but also the functioning of your enterprise.
The bigger your business becomes, the more likely you are to find yourself dealing with such issues at some point. Finding the delicate balance between providing the right level of support while also ensuring your company continues to function is not easy, but the following guide will give you a few key points to bear in mind.
Ideally, you should always have a contingency plan in place well in advance which you can implement at such a time to ensure the work the employee was due to do is covered by someone else. This allows the worker to deal with their crisis without having to worry about the impact their absence is having on the company.
A very small business may have only a few members of staff, and each one may be intimately involved in a critical role. In these circumstances, it is essential that each employee prepares clear instructions that enable others to take over their main duties in the event of an emergency. You may also want to introduce an element of cross-training that enables staff to assume one another’s roles or identify temporary replacement you can call in at short notice if necessary.
In the case of a more serious incident, it may be weeks or even months before your employee is able to return. If the employee is willing, you can also offer administrative or logistical support to them or members of their family during this time.
For example, if your employee has been involved in car crash, not only will they have to deal with the physical and psychological effects of their accident, they will also have to hire a personal injury lawyer to receive any compensation they might be entitled to. Arranging for this on their behalf can reduce their emotional burden and may even allow them to return to work more quickly.
No matter how close a friendship you may have developed with your employee, it’s important to remember that you are their boss first, their friend second. Should the crisis continue for some time and the work of the employee start to suffer as a result, it will be almost impossible for you to discuss the issues in an objective way if you have failed to retain appropriate boundaries between the two of you.
The other boundary that must be maintained is that of privacy. Regardless of the circumstances, it is always up to the member of staff to decide whether they want to inform other members of the workforce what they are dealing with. Failing to respect this means you risk damaging your future relationship with the employee once they return to work.