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Supporting Employees Through Personal Challenges: A Guide for Leaders



Employees often face personal challenges that can impact their professional lives. As a leader, no matter how adept you are at handling professional challenges, you may be unsure how to handle personal issues. 


While not always easy, supporting team members through these tough times is crucial. Doing so can help your employees feel encouraged and build trust—a goal for any leader looking to maintain a loyal and productive team. 


Whether your employees face financial difficulties, health issues or challenges with their family responsibilities, here are some practical tips to help them navigate these situations. 

Understanding common personal challenges 


While employees can face various challenges, they often fall into one of a handful of categories. 


  • Financial difficulties. Economic hardships can arise from unexpected expenses, debt, or a family member's job loss. These pressures can lead to stress that affects an employee's concentration and productivity. 

  • Health issues. Whether personal or involving a family member, health concerns can be a significant source of stress. This includes chronic illnesses, mental health struggles or acute medical emergencies. 

  • Family responsibilities. Balancing work with family life, especially for those caring for children or elderly parents, can be challenging. Family dynamics, such as marital problems or parenting issues, also add to this burden. 

Strategies for supporting employees 

The type of support that will be most well-received varies depending on the individual and their situation. It’s always a good idea to talk to any employee you know or believe to be struggling and discover the help they need. However, here are some ideas. 


Offer flexible scheduling 

Flexibility can be an enormous help to employees while dealing with health issues or caring for a family member. Consider options like: 


  • Flexible hours. Allowing employees to start and end their day earlier or later can help them manage personal appointments and responsibilities. 

  • Remote work opportunities. If an employee typically works in the office, offer the option to work from home or another remote location. This reduces the stress of commuting and provides privacy and a comfortable environment for those dealing with personal issues. 

  • Discouraging unnecessary overtime. An employee may work longer hours remotely because work is always accessible. Encourage people to scale back while they get a handle on their situation. In many cases, overtime might be a habit rather than a true expectation. Work with them to set achievable work goals that consider their current situation. 

Proactive communication of support 

Employees dealing with personal challenges may worry about losing their jobs, which adds another layer of stress to an already difficult time.  


Leaders should initiate conversations to reassure struggling employees that their jobs aren’t on the line. These regular check-ins can also help you gauge an employee’s well-being and offer support when needed. 


Employees may not feel comfortable providing details on their situation but encourage a culture where people can feel comfortable discussing their challenges without fear of judgment. 


Highlight available employee benefits 

Many employees are not fully aware of the benefits available to them. Ensure they know about: 


  • Counseling services. If your firm offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind them of these resources. 

  • Health and wellness programs. These can be invaluable for those dealing with health-related issues. 

  • Financial planning assistance. For employees facing financial challenges, budgeting or debt management guidance can be a lifeline. 

As leaders, our role extends beyond managing work; it involves supporting our team members holistically. By offering flexible scheduling, proactively communicating support, ensuring awareness of employee benefits, and reassuring job security, you can help your team members navigate their challenges while maintaining a productive and positive work environment. Remember, a supported employee is more engaged and loyal and brings their best self to work, contributing to the firm's overall success.

 

Do you want to connect with other Operational Leaders in the accounting profession to become a more confident leader? 


The Boomer Operations Circle is a peer group of Operational Leaders from successful and growing firms who work together to develop the best business strategies, plans and procedures. Apply now to start building valuable long-term relationships with others who are navigating the same challenges in shaping their firms for the future.  


 

As Member Experience Strategist for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Erin plans, organizes, secures and manages resources for the firm’s many service and program areas, including providing assistance and constant communication with clients and sponsors and serving as an even liaison. Her primary duties include overseeing and managing the specifics of all Boomer Consulting, Inc. communities, such as the Boomer Technology Circles, CIO Circle, Managing Partner Circle, Business Transformation Circle and Operations Circle.

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