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Navigating Employees' Personal Needs | Unfiltered HR E012

As an HR professional or business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to know your role or responsibility for navigating your employees' mental health. In this episode, Jen & Emily discuss when to intervene in an employee's mental health crisis, when to step back, and how to know the difference.

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🎵 Theme music: "Unfiltered" by Justin Rowland 🎵

 


Video Transcript:

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Unfiltered. I'm Emily. From Ally Partners.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

And I am Jen Strait from Complete Payroll.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

In case you forgot. Today we are here at Fresh Catch. We're at the Williamsville location today, but they also have a great location where the whole bar downtown at Pearl Street.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

You buried the lede! Bar is a bar that we're.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Not the bar location. Shockingly, we're not the bar.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

What’s in a cooler over there? I think there's something.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah, there's also a market here. We can buy fresh veg. So thank you to Mike and the team here for letting us take over a part of the restaurant and shoot today and have some good food.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, everybody seems to be enjoying it in and out, and we apologize with some background noise, but they have to get their fresh.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Spring is springing. It's a good right diet.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Perfect day for the spring.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah. All right, Jen. So I'm question how are you feeling today?

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Like in general? Jen Oh, I am like I'm like I actually just talked to my friend about this. I am really great and also ready to lose it at any moment. This is a lot you know, there's a lot of things going on as a mother and the employee and everything, but generally. Good. Thank you for asking.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Good luck. I'm glad to hear that. And I think your sentiment is probably similar to a lot of people's right now. And on that note, that's kind of what we're going to be talking about today. The past two years, especially with the pandemic on and off and people being cooped up at home and kind of personal needs growing, and now there's a war going on.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

I think everyone is a little bit on edge and more than ever, employees personal needs, whether it's mental health related or personal at home needs or concerns are trickling into the workplace and employers are having to deal with these things more than ever before. Just doing the right thing purposes. But also employees aren't exactly going on trees these days.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So being accommodating and understanding and empathetic is more necessary than ever. To keep good people around and just to keep people around in general. So we thought we'd provide you with some tips today on how to kind of keep that within the rails. And how to deal with those things in the way I think that balances your obligations, but also the right thing to do, but also still being able to run your business in the midst of all of that stuff.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Absolutely. I think it's important to that. Employers recognize that one that has happened. A lot of people still are working from home, and it's natural to have that blend. They're working from home and they're also dealing with home issues and children and and when they're home sick now, they're you know, it's not like necessarily where you go to an office anymore.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

But and if you are going to an office, it's different now. You know, who they have open that door to talk about all of these things. And it can be a good thing.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

But like schools are closed and canceled and kids are sent home more than ever. So, yeah. How do you navigate all these things again? Yeah. So our first real tip and the first thing you want to make sure that you understand is you have employees that come to you and your managers with these issues or concerns or needs is knowing what your obligation is are not that you want to just act only on obligation, but you should know whether the situation or circumstance has certain legal requirements around there or certain employment laws that apply to it, because you don't want to inadvertently step outside of what you're required to do and dealing with it and

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

get in trouble on top of, you know, of dealing with this and taking the time to deal with it. So that means, John, are there any leave requirements? Right. So if someone needs like even a short term leave of absence to deal with whatever they're going through, you should know what your obligations are there. And we're not going to go into that too deep.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

If you recall, one of our last episodes was on leave and leave obligations and there is more resources on both of our websites about that. So but we're talking right now about disability leaves, FMLA paid family leave, even paid sick leave, which is just paid time off. You have to offer that's protected on a daily basis. So just make sure you understand if there's any obligations on that leave area.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

If they need leave as part of a way to deal with their issue.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

And Emily, just as a side note, has a great chart on that of what qualifying factors are for each leave. And you can kind of start there just like like you said, your obligation, what are your obligations for these qualifying factors and these leaves and then manage it from there. If they're asking for leave or do you want to suggest it as an employer to take some time?

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Sometimes, you know, the employee feels like they can't ask, right? Yeah.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

And if you know of a circumstance, whether it's someone's own mental health issue or a family member's mental health issue or illness that they have to help take care of mom in this time for you do have to actually as an employer provide and offer that leave, right? Not necessarily wait for the employee to become aware of it.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So just yeah, make sure you're aware of that requirement. But John, there's also another layer that is important to know. Even if an employee doesn't need a leave of absence, they might need some sort of accommodation of other type. And if the condition that they personally are going through is ADA protected or Americans with Disabilities Act, to protect it and qualifying, and then you might need to accommodate them in some other way in doing their job, whether it's some sort of reduced work schedule, modified hours or hours, they can work in the day, just different things that you might have to modify.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

It's a requirement under the law in order to help them work through their disability situation.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, absolutely. And that's not only is it obviously the right thing to do, but there are guidelines and law requirements for that. ADA and you know, we'll have more information on that on our website.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah, that can be a tricky subject when it comes to accommodations. You certainly don't need to provide accommodations that prevent someone from being able to do the essential duties of their job. You don't need to accommodate to that point, but there are ways that you can get creative and keep the person at work working, making an income that kind of thing, but still in the short term, modifying their situation so they can work through what they're working through.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yep. So reach out if you have those situations because they can be tricky. So aside from kind of that first check the box of what are you required to do? What should you be careful of? You know what? By law, are you required to kind of look into and make sure it's taken care of? Also, you may want to consider other options, right?

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

You're not you're not held just to those obligations as an employer. You can go outside of that. You can offer things formally. You can offer things informally. So we wanted to bring you some ideas for that as well. So certainly if someone needs to leave Jen and there's nothing by law that's required, you can offer them a personal leave of absence if you'd like.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah. So that's one really easy option. You'd want to make sure it's well documented and that it's for a certain defined period of time and that kind of thing. But that is an option. Another great option I think we've talked about on other episodes is setting up an EAP program benefit. So do you guys have associations with any of those channels locally?

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

You know, someone had just asked about whether we have someone that we can refer to. And my first thought was, let me go, let me go to Emily because we we, you know, don't everyone has their their personal relationships, but we're always looking for that kind of referral relationship because a lot of businesses are looking for that.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah. The biggest provider in this area that is also the best, I think is Child and Family Services. So they have an employee assistance program depending on your employer size. There is a cost to it per year, but it's pretty minimal and it's an amazing benefit for your staff. It really gets them access to help and resources in the community when it comes to mental health counseling needs.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Financial counseling means helping them find a place for their elderly father to live. Really detailed, helpful resources that can save a lot of people's mental health and time and sanity when they're dealing with these issues. And the other great thing about EAP program is it kind of allows you to offer a resource as an employer without having to get too involved yourself.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Right? Because there are some concerns of your managers themselves or you as an owner get too involved in the personal lives of employees. So this is a resource to be able to provide help without having to cross that kind of gray and tricky line. Yeah.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

And I think, you know, a great point that you made is it's not just for the employee, but it gives you resources to help your family members. So it's not just for you, but just trying to find how this whole.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Family.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Fought for the family so that is I that is just such a great resource to have for because you know what? You are also trying to run your business. You may not be the expert in that. You want to provide that to your employees because as we talked about again and again and again, it's so hard to attract and retain your employees.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

What are ways that you can provide other benefits that maybe the business next door isn't doing?

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

And that's an example of a benefit in some of these others that will suggest really quick here that employees don't often see the value in or appreciate until they need it. Right. And it's not necessarily the best recruiting tool, but it certainly is a great retention tool. And that kind of loyalty you show to your staff and commitment to them will pay off big in the future for that.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, absolutely. And you can even reach out to your your health benefits. Yeah. There are some local health benefit brokers that are now offering those kind of services to include in their in their health benefits and telehealth things like that. And again, it doesn't always need to be a cost to the employer sometimes, you know, but just doing your your homework and research and providing those kind of services to your employees helps that loyalty and helps that retention.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah. And then some other creative options there, you know, to help with people as they have, whether it's increased mental health counseling needs or they're going through their own medical issues that they put off during college that are now worse for their family is consider options like FSA accounts or HSA accounts as an employer, really easy add ons to your benefits that you're already offering that may have no cost to you.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

You can choose to offer employees to contribute themselves, but also you can contribute as an employer. And that, again, is a way to provide some funds or means for employers to seek that help more proactively, because we all know it's expensive. A lot of people put it off. You would rather spend money on fun things than doctor's appointments or counseling.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So if you really build in that kind of nest egg for employees to have some funds for that, it might help encourage them to do so. And also supplemental disability benefits might be something to look into as well. And I think we might have mentioned that on another episode. But again, that's a way to encourage employees to take leave if they really need it, because they have more than just that $170 a week available.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So to see if they have some supplemental benefits available for that.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Right, right. Yeah.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

All things you can look into with your benefits program. Yeah. All right. So on those notes, if you do decide to go kind of above and beyond what is required or really even if you are going to offer what is required, if it's an accommodation or a formal leave, I would be remiss as a person if I didn't say you should really have an established policy procedure for these things so you can make sure that you have guidelines you're going to work in now, but also later for future circumstances, because as we all know, it's kind of about consistency across the board with employees.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So if you're going to do something for someone today, you want to make sure that you follow the same protocol in the future. So there can't be any claims of, you know, favoritism or discrimination and things like that. So if you're interested in doing any of these things, try to take like a holistic longer term approach to doing it than just reacting in the moment.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, absolutely. And I think taking that approach removes you from the situation. And when you once you're in the situation, you may be confused and emotions play a part in all of these things. If you if you set those guidelines and basically have a plan of what you're going to do, it may be just a lot easier procedure yeah.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah. Once that comes off as opposed to bringing all these emotions in and yeah. And that and just.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Kind of having that said, yeah. Thinking about this stuff now and setting a plan, even if it's in reaction to something that's occurring right now, is still going to serve you better for the future. And on that note, then the plan also helps you with training your managers for this stuff, right? So probably the people that are getting the brunt of these inquiries and having to deal with this the most are your front line managers.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

They're the ones that talk with your staff each day. They're the ones that deal with Collins. So they're the ones who have to deal with turnover if it's causing turnover. So doing some education and training with their managers on what first of all, is required from an accommodation and leave standpoint, but also other options available like ERP. So they can refer the employees to ERP or whatever it might be.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Is really important too, because it will kind of allow you to deal with this more proactively before it becomes a bigger issue in a lot of cases.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, and that helps everybody. It helps the planning stages and it helps the managers recognize these signs earlier too. And like you said, sometimes not waiting until the employee brings us up, but recognizing this and then maybe having that approach. And I don't want to use the word fixing, but attending to this matter more proactively, maybe, you know, save a lot of time and save a lot of frustration and stress for everyone involved.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah, because if someone's having an issue and you don't know of it. Yeah. And there's no conversation, it may become an attendance issue for that person before it becomes an issue that you can work with them collectively and collaboratively on. So that's a good point. But I do want to make another point that training reminders also on where the boundary should exist is important.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So empathy is obviously something we encourage all employers to have that relationship with the employer employee. That's more important than ever. But you want to make sure your managers know what lines not to cross and not to get too personally involved in employees situations, whether it's sharing medical information or other personal information that should really be escalated to H.R..

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Whoever is wearing the h.R. Hat in your business, just from a business protection standpoint, and also to just make sure it's being handled properly and in compliance with the law. So educating your managers on where that line is, but also to save them some time and sanity, because if they all become counselors for your business, that and it's going to take a lot of.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Exactly the law down, a lot of managers when they are trying to do the right thing, they're trying to help their employee that they care about. You know, it starts to become a cycle. So it's that's why it's important to have that plan ahead of time, setting those boundaries and that one.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah. So having the plan the final point is really back to that plan point. If you have a plan, if you have some defined resources that you can refer employees to that can help provide your manager support in dealing with these situations and help provide employee support, that's super important. But then at some point, you know, I do want to make the point that you are running a business and certainly there's a line of kind of boundary that you need to set as well.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

And if you're working with an employer on some of these things and it's still not working out, then they might need you might need to part ways with them and then have them reapply in the future, things like that. But I have worked with clients who their business mission somehow becomes kind of solely about serving the personal lives of the employees, and that can be really detrimental to the business as well.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

So just kind of a piece of comfort that, you know, you're you don't need to go to extremes and you are running a business, right? So setting boundaries is important.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

That balance, that balance is key. And just having that plan ahead of time and having those resources and and like you said, reach out to your health benefit broker. And if you don't have health benefits, what would your suggestion be if you don't if you don't provide that now, would you go to someone directly or the AARP?

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yeah, you can contact Child and family services directly. Well, actually, we can tag them in this video. So we'll make sure to do that right now. And our clients there. And they're always very happy. But if you don't have health benefits now, first of all, make sure that you shouldn't based on your employer size. But we also have several referrals of great brokers and things that can really go the extra lengths to help you with kind of weighing the pros and cons of some of these benefits.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Yes.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah. And I think now's a great time to look at this. And like like you said, we work with a few partners in the area that will really give you options, different options, not things that necessarily cost you an arm and a leg and some things that won't cost you anything as the employer, but it's important that you do your homework, help your employees the way you can so you can retain those go to employees.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

And some of these are really minimal cost if you think about it over your population and the amount of time and money you can save and turnover and training and retaining someone great, really, it can easily pay off. So consider that too.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Yeah, that's just it. And not only like the training and retaining someone and doing all of these. It's it's keeping the people that work well for your business, which is keeping your customers coming, right? So if you're having that turnover and it's just it becomes a mess, then your customers are going to recognize that and then you're not making, you know, it's all, it's all like one cycle.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

It's an ecosystem that I like that business. Your employees and managers, you know, really determine the health of your business. And so the little things you can do to help, you know, their health be better and you know, benefit your business as well.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

I think that wraps it up for our video here. Yeah.

Emily Martin, Ally HR Partners

Speaking of healthy, get down here and have some healthy food as we head into summer for our snacks. And we will catch you guys next time. Remember, if you have any suggestions for topics or if you want us to come shoot where you work we're happy to do that.

Jen Strait, Complete Payroll

Absolutely. Reach out to emily or myself or email and filter h.r. Complete payroll dot com. All of that information will be somewhere in the blog or in the video. Joe is great. Thanks Joe. Shout out to Joe.

Both

Thanks so much.

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