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What To Do When An Employee Is Struggling

Your employees can run into all kinds of trouble, both in the workplace and in their own, personal lives. And while you might think that the latter is none of your business, when it starts to interfere with the integrity of your company, you might just have to do something about it.

And because of this, you need to run yourself through some steps right now. Whether you’re already dealing with an employee who’s seeming to struggle, or you’re worried someone on your team may run into trouble in the future, you’ve got to step up to the plate! You’re the boss, and that means the health and safety of your team should be high on your priorities list.

But to help you make sure of this, we’ve listed out the things you’ll need to do to keep your employee on the straight and narrow below. Managing an employee that’s become difficult in some way or another isn’t a simple hire-and-fire job – there’s plenty of nuance to a situation like this.

A team needs to take care of its own, even when there’s a business involved.

Follow Procedure

The first thing to do is determine whether or not the employee in question has any legal responsibilities or expectations to keep to, and then ensure you’re in place to help them answer to them. After all, people can run into all sorts of troubles outside of work that might mean a phone call from the police or a lawyer’s office will be put through to you, and it’s good to think out this potentiality well ahead of time. It can be an awkward situation for all involved!

You may have to bring in an outside investigator to ensure the law was never broken on company property, nor did it affect anyone involved, particularly members of the public and/or clients of yours. When a situation like this arises, and you’re not sure whether or not an investigation will need to take place, consider whether or not an employee’s illegal actions had anything to do with their job role and associated tasks.

Most of all, stay up to date on the laws in your area, especially if you’re aware of an employee’s life outside of work. Of course, it’s not a good idea to judge any employee, especially since they do some very good work for you, but if you know what the statutes for things like drug charges are, you’ll be in a much better place to help the team member in question.

Give Them Some Focus

Focus is a big thing in the business world, and it’s required for so many things. However, when you know an employee is struggling and you want them to be able to do better, and live up to their actual working potential, they’re going to need your sole focus and attention for a little while.

Of course, you don’t have to take your eye off of anything else, but you can arrange for more one to one meetings with the employee in person. Make sure it’s private and informal, and allows the employee to properly open up to you, either about what they’re struggling with at work or at home. Think about what you say, and the kind of body language you’re going to present, very carefully here.

Make sure they know you can be trusted, and none of the information they share with you can cause trouble for them in the future. After all, when we’re called into the office and asked to speak to the boss, thoughts about job security can send us into a panic. You don’t want this to happen when you’re only trying to help!

Celebrate the Little Victories

Once you’ve spoken to your employee and determined the problem, you can put together a plan that’ll help them to get back to their old self. And in this plan, you’ll need to set little milestones your team member can follow, to ensure they have plenty of little victories along the way that’ll keep encouraging them to do better and better.

And when a little victory is achieved, be sure to celebrate it. Call them back into the office to talk about it, and praise them for it. Even a small ‘employee of the month’ achievement, posted publicly, could very well motivate them like nothing ever has before!

Hold Them Accountable

Holding someone accountable isn’t just telling them when they’ve done wrong, or they’ve slipped up – it’s also a matter of support, and being around to help keep them on the right track. Constructive criticism is one thing, but having some compassion and understanding is another, and your employee needs a healthy heaping of both right now. As their boss, you need to find that balance.

And to do that, usually you’ll need to bring in someone who can work closely with them, on a specific one to one basis. You’re the boss of a business, and you’ve got a lot of things to do yourself, and that means you’re not the best person for the job! Even when you’re putting a bit more focus on them right now than you are anyone else, this can’t last forever. At some point, you’ll have to go back to work in the way you usually do, because other people are depending on you.

When you find yourself reaching this point, don’t simply give up on your employee. Instead, find someone to fill the gap. You can find an outside, knowledgeable, and patient mentor for your employee, or ask another more senior employee to liaise in such a manner, if they’ve got the right skills for it.

Do What’s Best for Them

And finally, above all else, always do what’s best for your employee. If that means putting their contract on hold, or terminating their employment for the foreseeable future, don’t be afraid to make the call. It can be a hard decision, especially if they’re a close member of the team and you’re aware of how hard they’ve worked in the past, but it’s sometimes very necessary.

Maybe they need some time off of work, maybe they need reduced hours, maybe they need to fill a completely different role on your payroll. There’s a lot you can do to free up some time for them and give them the space and understanding they need.

So, no matter what the employee in question is going through, you need to do what’s best for them. Their health matters the most in this situation, especially if you would like them to return to work for you one day. Be a good boss, and take their needs into account, above the business right now, because it’ll serve you well in the long term.

What to Keep in Mind

When an employee is struggling, and it’s clear to you they need some help, be sure to reach out and do what you can to support them. They’re a valuable member of the team, and when it comes to putting a strong chain of commerce together, the weakest link is also the strongest point.

So put some focus on them and give them something to work towards, or give them some time and space of their own. Health, both mental and physical, is an asset in the working world, and your hardworking employee is struggling right now. Determine what needs to be done, and don’t be afraid to make some hard choices.


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