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Posted 10/06/2016

What Can an Employer Do When Illness Interferes with Work?

Part I In part one, we will discuss this topic from the perspective of an employer who is supporting an employee with a chronic illness or similar work disruption, such as a family crisis. Since life is unpredictable, sometimes an employee—even a top notch one—can encounter an illness or personal situation that disrupts his/her work. Whether a personal crisis, a chronic illness, or a mental illness, there are ways to handle the setback and be supportive of the employee, too. As a manager, you need to know how to recognize the situation, how to be frank but encouraging to the employee, and when to draw the line. First, look for signs of sudden change or trouble and find the root:
  • Are details slipping through the cracks?
  • Has an attitude or other behavior changed dramatically?
  • Are there sudden and excessive absences?
  Second, remember you are the boss with business goals to meet:
  • Make sure that you (the employer) are not part of the problem.
  • Show your heart is in the right place but don’t become a therapist. Keeping your distance will help maintain clarification of your role. Oversharing will blur this line.
  • Be compassionate but fair.
  • Remind the employee of company policies as well as resources available such as Family Medical Leave Act, anonymous counseling appointments, and more.
  • Determine a schedule for planned days off or early dismissal, and establish a timeline for how long, as possible.
  • Be mindful of the impact on other employees’ morale due to the situation.
  • Check in frequently for status updates.
  There are Many Reasons why Interruptions in Performance Happen. All manner of personal crises can occur: car accidents, robberies, and assaults, the death of a spouse or loved one, or the need to become a caretaker for a family member. In addition, chronic illnesses can develop. Diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or Alzheimer’s may present gradually or with sudden onset and require assessment of an employee’s job or ability to contribute. Addictions to drugs is another reason interruptions occur. If the person has developed a substance abuse problem, it is the employer’s choice how to handle the situation. But sometimes, adverse reactions can occur with prescribed drugs causing behavior or mood swings. Or due to certain diagnoses, pain management drugs can become problematic. Having a policy in place before having to use one is the best advice. Open and honest dialogue within policy guidelines will usually lead to the right outcome. MPS Technical can Help you Keep People First. No matter the precision manufacturing job or the age group, treating your employees with the same respect, courtesy, and consideration that you would want is a good place to start. Keep in mind you may be setting a precedent as employees will also use the manager’s leadership as a guide of how to treat others. People quite often mirror what they have seen. Talk to MPS Technical to find qualified employees of all ages. Not only do we understand the needs of precision manufacturing companies, but we also have listened to and understand the talented people we have as candidates. We can offer you a great match with seamless onboarding. We have a convenient location to serve you. Let’s talk today.