HR tip: Distressed employee

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question: "We have a female employee who often comes to work in tears because of some domestic problem. This greatly affects her ability to do her job, so how do we handle her?"

HR Tip:
With great care. First, you have a duty for the welfare of your employees, and second, you need to get her back to full productivity. Either talk to her yourself or get a more appropriate colleague to do so. This must be someone who is able to relate well with your employee and be a good listener. Allow plenty of time for the meeting. Ask the woman what is the problem and listen carefully to what she has to say.

Do not rush to give advice, however tempting this may be. Try to understand how the woman is feeling. Then help her to identify ways towards dealing with the matter. At some point you may well have to point out to her that her distress is affecting her work, but introduce this gently.

If you feel that you do not have either the skill or the time to help the woman, I suggest that you refer her to an appropriate counsellor and perhaps pay for the first couple of sessions. But spend some time with her yourself before doing this to indicate that you care for her.

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