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Contact Us if you have more questions and thank you for your cooperation.

All-Too-Human Resources: When Employee Problems Become Yours

Author: Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is the CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR HR Solutions and author of the blog HR Base Camp. Since 2006, CEDR has been the nation’s leading provider of customized dental employee handbooks and on-demand HR solutions, helping dentists and their office managers successfully handle employee issues, prevent and resolve disputes before they lead to lawsuits, and safely navigate the complex employment law landscape. Our Solution Center is staffed by HR experts and attorneys. Call 866-414-6056 or visit www.cedrsolutions.com.
09.09.15 / 12:24 pm

“Leave it at the door” is a phrase doctors and managers love to use when it comes to employees’ personal problems–and in an ideal world, it’s exactly the right idea. After all, your employees are paid to not just be physically present, but mentally focused and on task while at work.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, and as an experienced employer, you know employees sometimes arrive distracted or upset, or become so during the course of the day. You’ve surely even had days like that yourself. And with patient care on the line, distracted employees are both costly and dangerous.

Dealing with the various and complicated “human” factors involved in HR can all too easily overwhelm your limited resources, affecting your ability to concentrate on your own tasks, and upsetting the productive office atmosphere you work so hard to maintain. So what should you do when employees bring personal problems to work?

Keeping the following tips in mind from the hiring point onwards will help you manage compassionately and effectively, supporting both the employee and the practice as you deal with personal or work-related employee problems.

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Near the beginning of employment:

  • DO take time to build a relationship with your employees before any major problems emerge. This makes any management issues that arise later easier to handle. Learn what’s important to them, and make sure they feel comfortable and appreciated. This will help you create and maintain a positive work environment!
  • DON’T let them get into a habit of telling you about their every personal problem on a daily basis. This is a level of involvement that puts a burden on the employer-employee relationship and will be hard to back out of once it becomes a pattern. Instead, gently but firmly redirect their attention to the fact that you both have work to get done, and this is not the time to discuss these issues.

 When the employee comes in upset or a personal problem emerges:

  • DO show compassion, listen, and demonstrate your concern and support. Show confidence in their ability to resolve or get past the problem. If the problem stems from something at the practice, assure the employee that you will address the issue and come up with a reasonable solution or alternative if possible.
  • DON’T specifically tell the employee what to do about a personal matter (you don’t want to be blamed later for a personal life decision) or promise a work solution that will put an unreasonable burden on you or the practice.

If an attendance, performance, or productivity issue arises:

  • DO set clear expectations for the employee. Let them know that you understand, but that you and the doctor also need to see specific behaviors from them.
  • DON’T skip your documentation of any problems because you know the employee was upset at the time. If you have the right employee handbook and management policies in place, you should have any flexibility you need to address the situation fairly, while still creating a record of your interactions and decisions to protect you later if you need it.

Human resources management is a delicate balance in any practice, and it takes care and attention at the right moments to prevent the scale from tipping. For an employee who has otherwise been a productive and strong team player, your words and actions now may help ensure that a snowball-sized problem today doesn’t build into an emotional avalanche (at least not at work!) on a later date.

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is the CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR HR Solutions and author of the blog HR Base Camp. Since 2006, CEDR has been the nation’s leading provider of customized dental employee handbooks and on-demand HR solutions, helping dentists and their office managers successfully handle employee issues, prevent and resolve disputes before they lead to lawsuits, and safely navigate the complex employment law landscape. Our Solution Center is staffed by HR experts and attorneys. Call 866-414-6056 or visit www.cedrsolutions.com.

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is the CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR HR Solutions and author of the blog HR Base Camp. Since 2006, CEDR has been the nation’s leading provider of customized dental employee handbooks and on-demand HR solutions, helping dentists and their office managers successfully handle employee issues, prevent and resolve disputes before they lead to lawsuits, and safely navigate the complex employment law landscape. Our Solution Center is staffed by HR experts and attorneys. Call 866-414-6056 or visit www.cedrsolutions.com.

2 responses to “All-Too-Human Resources: When Employee Problems Become Yours”

  1. Hi Paul,

    Thank you very much for this article I learned a lot from it. I have 2 staff members and we had two instances were their problems became my problems.

    Have a good day!

    Sonya

  2. Keeping and maintaining records actually helps a lot in retaining certain events and the decision taken during those times. It helps to better reflect, judge and comprehend similar situations in life.
    Thanks for the excellent share!

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