Monday, September 03, 2012
There is an old expression that says, "People should work-to-live not live-to-work." That said, upon occasion, and within certain bounds, you should allow an employee's personal life to take precedent over their job. The concept here is that if you have a good employee who is working through a difficult family, personal, or health issue you should help him or her out.
Assisting an employee at their time of need has the following benefits.
- As a human being, it feels really good to be able to really help someone
- It builds incredible loyalty from the employee toward you and the company
- It may save a good employee from leaving your firm to care for the issue
- People talk. The other members of your team will know you did something to help a team member. This in turn will increase the team's loyalty to you
- At a future time, when extra time or effort is needed to meet a deadline, your team will be there for you because you were there for them
Over the years I have occasionally had a team member ask me for help. One person asked if she could take two-hour lunches for a couple of months until she found new long term care for her elderly mother. Due to her mother's health issues, her current facility could no longer meet her heeds. In additional to dealing with the emotions relating to her mother's declining health, it also caused major logistical problems for the employee. She said she would make up the time by coming in early. Not only did she come in early every day, but she often stayed late just to make sure that all her work was completed. I didn't keep a close watch of her coming and going because I trusted her. The best I could tell, she worked about two hours for every one hour she was out.
As they say, "No good turn goes unpunished". Therefore, when helping a member of your team in this way, consider the following.
- Talk to your manager and Human Resources (HR) first to make sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with company policy
- Make sure this is viewed as a one-of-a-kind event, not as an ongoing favor
- Make it clear that this is for a specified length of time, with a specific end-date
- Be careful that you are not setting a department or company precedent
- You don't want to be seen as playing favorites or bending company rules
- If an employee asks "Why won't you do this for me, you did it for Larry?", you will have to answer it honestly and with valid reasoning
For additional information on today's topic, ask your HR department if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
This blog is based on a column I wrote last year, as part of my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. For my most recent columns refer to your local GateHouse News Service affiliate.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.