How leaders can help staff with issues outside of work

As business leaders, you want your staff to be happy in their work so they’re productive and motivated to do well, and there are a lot of things you can put in place to help with this and make your employees feel valued in the workplace. Of course, life doesn’t just stop when you clock in for your shift, and problems outside of the workplace may still have an effect on your employees’ abilities to focus.

Promoting mental and physical health and wellbeing 

The pace of life has become faster and faster in recent years, with technological developments bringing with them a culture of immediacy in all areas. Frequently, this can result in a lot of stress and mental health issues, but there are many ways that leaders can support their staff who are dealing with both acute and chronic problems.

The most obvious ways to help are to ensure staff know they are able to take time off for medical appointments and to offer flexible working arrangements which may suit them better. These could include flexi-time for their working hours, or the option to work from home. In some circumstances, it may be beneficial to all parties to consider a longer period of time off work or to offer a job-share solution on either a temporary or permanent basis. 

Staff experiencing symptoms of stress or depression should be encouraged to seek advice from their GP, and employers can make this an easier leap to take by ensuring they are promoting a culture of acceptance and tackling any stigma towards mental health in their workplace.

Leaders could also offer employee ‘perks’ such as discounts for local massage services, wellbeing or exercise classes, and advertising free or low-cost counselling services to their staff.

Assisting with financial issues

It’s important that staff feel valued for the work they’re doing, and can also afford their own personal cost of living. For this reason, you should make sure that you’re conducting regular reviews with each of your staff, where they’re able to safely express any concerns they may have about their position in the workplace and their salary expectations. 

You may be able to offer occasional bonuses at Christmas or other times of the year, or perhaps introduce an incentive scheme allowing them to earn more above their standard wage.

However, unexpected costs can occur at any time, perhaps a large vet bill, or car repairs so the employee can actually get to work. This can be a hugely stressful time as it may not have been factored into their regular living budget. Whilst you may not be able to assist directly if they are feeling stuck, you can still help by pointing them in the direction of someone who can.

“Some people believe that if they have a poor credit rating or have been refused for loans, there is no way to get one; but this isn’t the case,” says Jon Edward of Guarantor Loans “there are strong options such as a loan with a guarantor, or working with specialist companies that offer credit to people with a poor credit history”. 

Allowing for family or personal obligations

Personal circumstances can change very suddenly and employers should be prepared to assist with any eventuality and train their line managers to respond sensitively and appropriately to anything a member of staff chooses to share with them. It’s important to foster an environment where staff feel safe to share, and where they feel that their individual circumstances will be listened to and their needs will be met.

You may need to support an employee with a disability or long-term health condition, or someone who is caring for a disabled relative. As with promoting mental health in the workplace, employees or carers may benefit from options for flexible working or the opportunity to work from home.

Parents may also benefit from these options, particularly single parents, new parents, or those going through a separation or divorce and trying to juggle a lot of new aspects to their schedule. They may also require time off for appointments with schools or solicitors. You may even be able to partner with a local childcare service to offer discounted rates for your employees or provide crèche facilities in your workplace.

Final thoughts

If your team feels valued and safe in the workplace, they’ll be more likely to share with you when things outside of work are affecting them. It’s important for them to know that the support network is there, whether they choose to reach out or not. Company noticeboards or intranet forums are a great way to advertise offers and services that could help your employees with managing their mental health, sourcing financial assistance, or finding childcare, etc.

If you have employees who are working flexible hours or from home, or returning to work after a break, it’s worth factoring in regular team meetings with different days/times so they’re able to attend when they can, and still feel like they’re part of a cohesive and integrated team.

With the right atmosphere and environment, the workplace can provide a much-needed sanctuary for those going through hardships outside of work, so it’s always worth taking on that extra bit of responsibility for the benefit of everyone involved.