Timing is Everything

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Given that ‘Mental Health’ has turned into a perfect noun over the last year, we thought it was a good time to reflect on some of the impacts that emotional and mental health challenges have on our workplaces.

We see so many employers trying so hard to not do the wrong thing, that they are not doing the right thing!

Employee ill-health is difficult for business owners. Sick leave entitlements, covering for those who are not at work and juggling clients and completion dates are all part of a day’s work. But when the issues are more subjective – an employee with a broken spirit rather than a broken leg for example – resolve and processes tend to take a back seat. Fear of making things worse, of being outed as insensitive, or (heaven forbid) facing an employment claim for being unfair or unreasonable stops employers from acting at all. Somehow the requirement for a business owner to show kindness has morphed into accepting and soothing almost any attendance or productivity issue in the workplace, regardless of the cost to team cohesion and the bottom line.

At FixHR, our raison d’etre is to do all we can to prevent HR disasters in small businesses. We are strong advocates for staying in touch with your staff. We believe connectedness is an excellent antidote to the isolation that often precedes the spiral into mental imbalance (see a very interesting article from Jehan Casinader here). The Mental Health Foundation has good resource here that you may find helpful to start more meaningful conversations in the workplace.

As business owners we need to have meaningful conversations with our staff. To be cognisant of the particular stresses and strains staff are under we need to hear it from them, and they should see that we are interested. But this does not release your employee from their contractual obligation to be a good employee and to perform a useful and honest day’s work.

If your staff member is not up to clocking in to work, able to meet deadlines or be productive and make their normal contribution to the business, do not be afraid to broach the subject. There might be some practical things that are easily altered such as flexible working arrangements, setting tech or workspace up differently, or temporarily shifting emphasis of roles. But if you tolerate poor performance, pretending all is well when it is clearly not, you are setting yourself up for a fall.

If you need extra support contact us. We are not counsellors! But we are objective and invested in strong, healthy workplaces at every level.

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