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When Individual Personal Problems Interfere with Work

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 8 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Personal Problems Problems Work Stress

Finding the right way to deal with individuals' personal problems when they impact your business is always difficult, but it's all the more so when yours is a family business and you have a responsibility to those individuals on several levels. Unfortunately, problems like these do arise and they can have a profoundly negative impact on work, so it's essential that you be able to take practical steps to find a solution.

Good management in these situations can help cut down stress for all involved and avoid making the situation worse. In most cases you'll be able to work with the affected person to find a way forward that's good for everyone.

Temporary Problems

When one of your staff has a temporary problem, the emphasis should always be on finding a way to work around it and, as far as possible, go on with business as usual. If there are health issues involved or they're under a lot of stress, don't be hesitant about allowing them time off - you could end up losing a lot more business hours later on if they work too hard and end up developing ongoing problems as a result.

Sometimes you may need to be firm and tell a conscientious employee that it would be better if they didn't come in for a couple of days. By working together with them you can establish which parts of their work need to be prioritised and what can reasonably be delegated to other people. If there are some things that depend on their personal presence you can work out the easiest way for them to fit those in around their other concerns.

Of course, you can't go out of your way for every employee who has personal problems. Some people are prone to exaggeration even though others may not admit anything's wrong until they're really struggling and their business performance is impaired. This is where the family nature of your business can come in useful. By talking to different family members you can establish the seriousness of personal problems in each instance and you can get an idea of how long they're likely to be an issue for.

Ongoing Health Problems

When an employee has ongoing personal problems which are medical in nature it can place a great strain on the business. At the worst, you'll need to pay them sickness benefit for six months before the government will reimburse you and take over. Obviously this is difficult for any small business and it's a situation in which business insurance can come in really useful. However in many cases people with personal problems of this type are still able to do some work some of the time, and there may be things which you can do as a business to make it easier for them.

Start by talking to your employee about what they need. If they have a stress related problem then a quieter working environment, perhaps with more access to fresh air and sunlight, could make a big difference, and you may be able to relieve them of high pressure tasks. Other common problems can be alleviated somewhat with the provision of better quality office seating, with regular breaks for food or rest, or with a different shift pattern. By talking to their doctor your employee may be able to arrange for an occupational therapist to visit the business and make useful suggestions which neither of you would have thought of on your own.

Addictions

One of the most difficult problems for any small business is addiction. It can be very hard to cope in ordinary circumstances when a family member has an addiction. When that person is also a part of your business, you can't afford to ignore the problem - it's essential to acknowledge it and take action straight away.

An addiction is never just a personal problem - it can quickly become a problem for everybody. As soon as you realise it's going on - even if the person involved does not acknowledge it - you must do whatever is necessary to make sure that person has no access to the business finances, because otherwise - sooner or later - the temptation to embezzle will grow too strong.

You should also aim to relieve that person of all tasks which involve dealing with other people - customers and business contacts - so they can't make the business look bad. Naturally you should keep them away from potentially dangerous machinery, but they may still be able to do some work if they are willing to look for treatment. Just don't let their personal problems suck the business down with them.

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Buddy - Your Question:
Question: AdditionNormal person meet druggie, falls in love and moves overseas. 2 children later and more additions, gambling and alcoholism, quartet returns to homeland and creates a company, 3 in facts, from scratch. Such novices that they even bothered to registered their companies 3 months later, theirs was a a learning chute, without the para.13 years later, 1 company hanging on in there,1 restaurant- closed, deli-closed- sol new built home - sold and funds ploughed back into company, tv appearance- videoed, hysterectomy- !!!!, relocation to Portugal - palm trees & cold cod fish - 2 strip joints - pass on, 1 tapas bar- still tapping, five forced internments in detox facilities throughout the world - waste of time and money, 1 case of Herpes and a bout of something other organ rotting disease, mercury poisoning, and visits to local crack houses, the company is now hanging on by a thread, staff are leaving like rats from a sinking ship, as the boss has again been dragged off to the local dry cleaners for another dry out. Oh and to top it all during the local administration of the obvious divorce, discovering that a prenuptial was more a postnuptial, as I had whilst under the influence of love, I had signed my name out of all future business in the name of my husband - moral, do not put love first when it comes to business - thats why it is called business and not a romantic jaunt: so I now work for a company I do not have any claim to - Needless to say, my question is, how the hell do I know try and save my livelihood, our children future, our remaining employees - oh yeah and avoid the clutches of the MAFIA FAMILY, who have again come out of the rescue - blood USE Calvary -horns a blaring - to save the day and the world.You site advises on the normally problems and issues encountered by normal people, the above clearly shows that this is not my case.Go on make my day - solve this one Einstein

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this, what a roller-coaster it sounds, you're life is certainly not of the 'vanilla' variety. I can only suggest you seek legal advice with regards to the possibility of registering an interest in the business/estate. A pre-nup is fine if the marriage is short, or the partner had his/her own assets that they may also wish to protect. However, if the marriage has lasted and there are children involved then it means there are overriding reasons to prevent your husband from upholding the provisions of the agreement. Plus, the fact that you have worked within the business will also give you a case. It means a court could overrule the agreement and force your husband to part with some of his pre-existing wealth to provide for the needs of your children and yourself.Wishing you the best of luck.
AFamilyBusiness - 9-Sep-15 @ 12:47 PM
Question:Addition Normal person meet druggie, falls in love and moves overseas. 2 children later and more additions, gambling and alcoholism, quartet returns to homeland and creates a company, 3 in facts, from scratch.Such novices that they even bothered to registered their companies 3 months later, theirs was a a learning chute, without the para. 13 years later, 1 company hanging on in there,1 restaurant- closed, deli-closed- sol new built home - sold and funds ploughed back into company, tv appearance- videoed, hysterectomy- !!!!, relocation to Portugal - palm trees & cold cod fish - 2 strip joints - pass on, 1 tapas bar- still tapping, five forced internments in detox facilities throughout the world - waste of time and money, 1 case of Herpes and a bout of something other organ rotting disease, mercury poisoning, and visits to local crack houses, the company is now hanging on by a thread, staff are leaving like rats from a sinking ship, as the boss has again been dragged off to the local dry cleaners for another dry out. Oh and to top it all during the local administration of the obvious divorce, discovering that a prenuptial was more a postnuptial, as I had whilst under the influence of love, I had signed my name out of all future business in the name of my husband - moral, do not put love first when it comes to business - thats why it is called business and not a romantic jaunt: so I now work for a company I do not have any claim to - Needless to say, my question is, how the hell do I know try and save my livelihood, our children future, our remaining employees - oh yeah and avoid the clutches of the MAFIA FAMILY, who have again come out of the rescue - blood USE Calvary -horns a blaring - to save the day and the world. You site advises on the normally problems and issues encountered by normal people, the above clearly shows that this is not my case. Go on make my day - solve this one Einstein
Buddy - 8-Sep-15 @ 10:14 AM
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