Think about a time when you changed jobs or even just tried a new food. Maybe things went well, but you probably spent time worrying about all the things that could go wrong. Something as simple as trying a new food can make people anxious.
Bigger changes, such as switching jobs, getting married or divorced, moving house, having a child, or needing to take care of an aging parent, also represent bigger risks. Someone may need to completely change their lifestyle in order to cope with the change. An employee who just bought a house may need to curb their extravagant spending habits. A person who was just told about a health risk may change their lifestyle completely.
There are obviously huge payoffs for making changes, and many of life’s changes are in fact positive. Nonetheless, they can cause your employees plenty of stress, frustration, and lost sleep.
Why Should Employers Care?
As an employer, it’s in your best interests to help your employees in any way possible. Your people are one of your largest assets as a company. They’re what set you apart from your competition. Healthy, happy, and engaged employees are productive and they bring creative new ideas to work.
If your employees are having trouble balancing their work life with their new roles as parents or caregivers, they’re probably not bringing their A-game to the office. Similarly, someone who is significantly in debt is probably spending time and energy thinking about creative new strategies to make sure they can cover the rent. They’re not thinking about the new product you’ve asked them to design.
Finally, your employees are people too. Providing them with support benefits everyone.
What Can You Do?
The next questions employers have is, “How can I help?” Many feel understandably lost when it comes to helping employees cope effectively with life’s changes. After all, it was your employee’s decision to have a child or buy a house, not yours, and they’re probably not soliciting you for parenting advice.
Some of the support employers provide is financial or economic. For example, what kind of leave policy do you have for new parents or caregivers? If you only extend the federal EI minimums, you could be causing your new-parent employees financial stress. You could ease their burden by offering a somewhat more generous leave policy.
Employers can also provide access to support networks. You may not offer parenting advice, but maybe your benefits will cover the cost of couples’ therapy or child psychology. Maybe benefits help cover the costs of prescription medications for children or those of elderly parents.
Another thing employers can do is provide social support and information resources. If you know you have a number of new parents or people who are caregiving for elderly parents, suggest forming a support group.
You can also organize workshops or seminars to help employees. Examples could include sessions on work-life balance, stress management, or even adjusting to a new role. If many of your employees have made a commitment to healthier lifestyles, a series of workshops or seminars could support them in this endeavour.
The things you choose to do don’t necessarily need to cost you much either. Most employers hesitate when it comes to offering help for two reasons. One, they see these life changes as individual employees’ decisions. Two, they think it will cost too much to support their employees.
In fact, not offering support could cost you more in the long run. It’s simple to help your employees adjust to life’s changes, and everyone benefits in the end.