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When Two Worlds Collide: Why it's Important to Mix Business with Personal

There used to be a time when employers would request that you ‘leave your personal life at the door’. It sounds a little old-school now, as we are so used to hearing about wellbeing and mental health, but it was once common, and there are still some workplaces and industries where it is a prevalent attitude.

This is because employers want their staff to be fully focused on the job at hand. This makes sense, especially when you’re talking about jobs involving manual labour or heavy machinery, as was common once upon a time. It’s not surprising that an employer would want workers to be focused, dedicated and not distracted by any issues at home. It would also cut down on gossip and excessive talking amongst co-workers, which might reduce productivity.

However, this attitude entirely fails to understand how humans function. If we are experiencing struggles outside of work – whether that’s a relationship breakdown, children going through exams, caring for elderly parents, physical health problems, money troubles or anything else that life can throw at us – we cannot just ignore it as soon as we walk through the door at the office. We are not going to be performing at our peak, and may instead feel stressed, anxious, worried, possibly depressed, and certainly distracted. Add work into the mix and it will only take a last-minute deadline or uncaring manager to be the straw that broke the camels’ back.

That’s why it’s important for employers to understand and embrace the fact that their employees’ personal lives will have an impact on how they perform in the workplace. Life is a sum of all its’ parts and one section does not exist in a vacuum without the others – it is vital that the workplace doesn’t ignore this fact. Business owners, organisation leaders and management teams must all show an interest in the personal life of their people – not in too much detail, as the exact circumstances are no-one’s business but the individual, but in a general way that shows they understand the impact that the rest of life can have on a person’s ability to work or contribute well, and that they are willing to make certain allowances or provide varieties of support.

Of course, it’s essential that there are boundaries in place – employers cannot fix the problem of every member of staff, nor should they be expected to. Manager shouldn’t be taking phone calls to help with personal issues, and no one should be encouraged to use the HR department as a personal therapist. It’s important that both employer and employee know not to overstep the mark or exploit the workplace relationship, and that there is clear guidance about exactly what an employer will and won’t do, and what employees should and should not expect.

Organisations who fail to show that they care may not only find that they experience reduced productivity, workplace tension, absenteeism and presenteeism, but that they might lose employees entirely, either to ill health or to an alternative employer who does support their workforce. It’s important that groups do what they can to create a supportive, empathetic culture where their people feel like they are listened to and cared for – an individual is far more likely to stay in an organisation where they feel like they will get help if they ask for it, rather than it being brushed off and being told to get back to work.

YU actually provides a solution for this – our group dashboard can be implemented by companies, charities and organisations to monitor the wellbeing of their people by anonymously collating their data from the YU app to provide an overall picture of the heartbeat of the group. They can see analytics for each department or sector of the organisation, assess the impact of certain events (like team days, redundancies or colleagues leaving, for example) on the average mood of the group, and use this information to employ positive strategies for change or to boost morale.

If you think this might be something that your workplace would benefit from, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to chat it through with you.

Employers who acknowledge that life continues to happen regardless of work, and create a nurturing and compassionate environment as a result will get the best out of their workers, and individuals will begin to have a far more positive outlook on the role that the workplace can play in their life.

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