Helping an Employee Through a Tough Time

Our personal and professional lives inevitably overlap. It is unnatural to segregate our work selves from our personal selves. It’s important to show compassion to your employees. Making your team a place where people can communicate those personal issues builds emotional safety for all team members and develops deeper bonds. When we are not happy with the personal and professional parts of our lives, we cannot provide happiness to others. It’s essential to know the best way to deal with your employee’s crisis. The following tips can help you manage and assist an employee as they go through a difficult time.

Talk to Your Employee

When you see changes in your worker’s behavior, be proactive. Invite them to talk with you privately or over coffee. Without pushing the individual to open up to you, acknowledge that you’ve seen the difference and express concern. It would help if you let them know you’re available to talk anytime and stress that you’ll not share the details of the conversation. Be mindful that you mustn’t become their only source of discussing this personal matter because it could cause long term issues as a supervisor.
You must still have frank discussions with this employee.

An Open Ear Means A Lot

If your troubled employee does come to you, be sure to give them your undivided attention. Instead of trying to come up with solutions that you think would help them, listen intently to what they’re saying. Practice active listening by repeating back what your employee has told you. Empathize by expressing how hard it must be to go through that situation. Sometimes, a little rant is all a person needs to feel better and gain a healthier perspective.

As you deal with a troubled employee, it’s important to remember not to overstep your bounds. To the employee, that can feel like you’re intruding into their personal lives. Additionally, what you may see as one good deed can be viewed as favoritism, or it can be setting an example that you’ll have to live up to with all of your employees. While you should be compassionate and helpful as much as possible, setting clear boundaries will ensure that you are not taking on too much responsibility for your employees’ personal lives.

Give Them a Game Plan

Confronting this employee’s problem will help your employees’ mental health and make their workplace a more positive environment. Let the employee know that they can take some time off. This is a critical time to get the right documentation in order and understand the status of their work. When you present a solution to your employee, it will allow your worker to focus on resolving that issue faster and create a more enjoyable work environment for everyone.

Take a Greater Interest

After your initial discussion, you and the employee may agree that a more flexible schedule or some other arrangement would be beneficial. Please encourage them to seek help outside the company, such as contacting a counselor. You should check in with the employee to see how they’re doing. While it’s important to respect their privacy, you can ask about the situation and check to see that they’re coping well. This will allow them to ask for additional help, or to assure you that they’re managing the problem.

Communicate With The Team

At the first appropriate opportunity, ask your employee if you can share the delicate personal matter with the team. Other employees don’t need to know the details. Still, your team likely knows something is wrong. The office rumor mill exists. To stop that rumor mill, a team’s leader must be transparent about the issue so that it is clear the situation is under control.


As much as most people try to separate their work and personal lives, some problems cause such a strong emotional response that every aspect of their lives is touched. Some supervisors may find it unprofessional to discuss personal matters at work. But that is naïve. We are just one person. If you find you are one person at work and another person at home, then one of those people is fake. Our personal naturally impacts our professional. You will find that it is much more costly to your organization to ignore the apparent pain that your employee is suffering in the long term. Knowing your employer cares is what most employees need to hear.

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