What sort of worker are you? Are you everyday completely motivated, completely focused on work goals and completely consistent in your efforts and focus? Do you start work at a set time, and accomplish all tasks with never a thought about personal issues, or life events which may have impacted upon you? If you were unfortunate to suffer the loss of a loved one through divorce or bereavement, would it affect your work performance or would you remain completely focused?

If your answer to the above is that you are always equally determined, committed and focused, it may well be that you are more robot than man. Because even the most committed, conscientious employees face stresses and strains during their working career that will impede their performance. But the extent to which such stresses continue to impede your performance may well be more to do with your place of work than you. Take bereavement. It’s a regrettable fact of life that in the average working life of forty years, you may well lose a loved one. Most companies will have a policy for dealing with this, usually compassionate leave. But bereavement is something that can impact upon people for years not two weeks, and may continue to distract them while at work following compassionate leave. More support in the workplace is needed.

Indeed, a recent UK survey found 32% of respondents dissatisfied by the level of support shown by employers after suffering such a loss. This will lead to decreased motivation and loyalty towards that company, as well as accentuating the emotional suffering of the individual concerned. Many companies are pressurized places, chasing profits in often tough trading conditions. Pastoral care and support for workers may as a consequence be something they are not very good at. Which is a shame. Absenteeism, especially of the prolonged variety, costs businesses collectively billions every year. And the key causes of absenteeism tend to be mental well-being issues such as stress. That’s why it makes perfect business sense to have initiatives like employee assistance programmes in place at every large company. Because people cannot be consistent performers, and because people will have work and life issues at times during their career where they would benefit from help. EAPs can help in myriad ways. Confidential counselling is often a key part of their programme, so an employee can seek help when they are feeling depressed or upset about something without thinking it may impact in their career or their standing among peers. And, should someone have the courage to admit they can’t continue working due to issues they are facing, then they can get support and referrals to help them through EAPs. Indeed one EAP company in the UK, Health Assured, introduced an activecare initiative whereby employees phoning in that they are absent through stress get help from day one. This makes sense for the employee and business sense for the employer as stress is a key cause of long term absences.

We understand people because we are people ourselves, and companies need to make sure their people policies are robust enough to support people through the bad times and good. Not because they are charities but because it will help their productivity and performance to help their employees have professional support whenever they need it.

By Guest

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