Keeping personal problems personal no longer effective



By Ashleigh Cohen, Operations Manager at GIMT (Graduate Institute of Management and Technology)

The age-long mantra of keeping your personal problems personal no longer holds true in today?s professional environment. Management are increasingly realising that personal lives have an impact, and rather than frowning on it they are putting measures in place to deal with it in a proactive and effective manner.

For one, the above has led to the establishment of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) that work towards helping people deal with their personal problems professionally and appropriately.

The reality is that if you assist employees in dealing with their personal problems it will ultimately have a less negative impact on the individual?s work, enhancing productivity and professionalism.

However, there is no fool-proof formula for dealing with personal problems at work. A company must, for one, decide how much latitude it is wiling to give in terms of assisting employees to deal with personal problems.

A good example is that if the individual in question forms part of large team it will be easier to assist him or her by making additional resources available to assist with the work load and minimise the impact of the personal issue; however, in a smaller company the impact will undoubtedly be greater, particularly if the person is the only one that performs that particular function and there are no additional resources to assist with productivity levels.

Another consideration is budget - how long can the company actually afford for the person?s productivity to be lower than normal. Furthermore, some companies simply have more resources when it comes to their EAPs and may have permanent on-site councillors to assist employees.

An important business consideration is also what is the company getting in return for investing resources into this person? And yes, this might sound a bit harsh but it shouldn?t become an all-for-nothing scenario; ultimately any business would like its employees to be loyal, happy and perform at their most professional and productive levels.

No personal problems are the same and a company?s EAP should also be able to judge these and deal with it in the best possible manner. Again, this would also determine the latitude given and the amount of resources; be it time or money invested.

It is, therefore, quite apparent that assisting employees in dealing with their personal problems is an almost unique company personal decision in itself. Companies should, however, ensure that when they do deal with these issues, it is done in a committed, consistent and professional manner.