Leave your personal problems at home, please!

While this may not always be verbalized, this is the message many managers and supervisors want to say to employees who are under-performing at work because of personal problems. The truth is … people cannot leave their hearts at the door when they enter the office! And in fact, heart issues also affect the mind!

Consider just one common problem .. depression. A worker may have depression due to a relationship breakup, mounting debts, a wayward child, a missed promotion, or a host of other life situations. Research shows that when a person is depressed, parts of the brain that control appetite, sleep, thinking, and behavior function abnormally. The depressed worker who is not getting enough sleep could come to work late, not be able to focus well, and be irritable towards co-workers. Without adequate rest and nutrition, they may be more prone to sickness and absences.

Employees with personal problems are not only prone to have more absences and tardiness, they may be physically present but mentally absent. They could be spending time at work attending to their personal problem or just staring into space. They may make poor decisions or more mistakes due to distractions and decreased concentration.

A study by the American Medical Association revealed that productivity of troubled employees decreases by 20%. A survey conducted by PowerVision in 2011 on a small sample of employees who availed of EAP counseling revealed a 10% decrease in the number of hours at work due to their personal problems.

Clearly, companies need to look after their employees’ emotional health as much as their physical health. People who are emotionally down need help in finding concrete solutions to their problems and in adopting a healthier perspective to their situation. Managers and HR personnel can be sensitive to struggling employees and offer a helping hand or a listening ear. An Employee Assistance Program wherein confidential third-party counseling services are made available to employees can supplement internal resources in providing this much-needed support to maintain employee wellness and productivity.

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