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A Guide to Dealing with a Personal Crisis

Work is intruding on our personal lives more and more, with many of us checking work emails from the sofa and putting in extra hours just to feel like we are managing - especially in primary care. So perhaps it should be expected that personal issues and crises will also start to intrude more into our working lives?

Social media is also playing its part as we ‘befriend’ colleagues on social media and follow their blogs. We see social activities and personal dramas play out online, information that we would not previously have had access to. These factors, alone or in combination with other issues, can contribute to the onset of a personal crisis.

As the boundaries between work and personal life blur, sharing personal issues at work has become more and more common. How do we manage and support people dealing with issues that are getting on top of them? A recent report from the CIPD highlighted eight key areas where employees are increasingly likely to need support:

  • Long-Term Illness
  • Domestic Violence
  • Caring Responsibilities
  • Addiction
  • Bereavement
  • Divorce
  • Debt
  • Miscarriage


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) note that “The notion of work-life balance has diminished – it’s just life. We’re called upon to work outside traditional office hours, so it’s no surprise that people are more open to bringing their whole selves to work.” They propose a move from the idea of ‘difficult conversations’ to simply ‘conversations’, talking about how people are as a whole and any impact their life is having on work, and vice versa. While it’s not the role of managers to solve employee’s problems, it is their role to help them self-solve or make use of the support services in place.

Greater training may be needed for managers around emotional intelligence, rather than the previous focus of the bottom-line and task management. Managers need to weigh up the short-term cost of giving someone space (whether time off or flexible working) to deal with a difficult issue, versus the longer-term financial impact of replacing someone who has ended up leaving because juggling their personal issue and work became too much.


You should consider the following when face with any of the above situations:

  1. Ensure regular, informal welfare meetings are held and make notes of any discussions, support you offer and so on.
  2. Make sure your policies and procedures are up to date and meet your needs. Have a look at our policies library to see if there’s anything else you could utilise.
  3. The best way to know what your employee needs is to ask them. Different people are likely to need different types of support.
  4. Be careful around confidentiality. Some employees will be very open while others are very private. Again, ask the employee what they are comfortable with.


There are a many useful websites that offer advice on how to support your employees, so if your employee is diagnosed with a long-term medical condition, look up relevant organisations such as MacMillan Cancer Support or the MS Society, where you will often find a section of guidance to employers. Likewise, Carers UK can provide useful information if you’re supporting employees with caring responsibilities.

FPM members can access a broad selection of template documents including our new Carers Policy by heading to our Policies and Procedures Library. That’s just one of the many benefits of an FPM membership, follow the link to learn more!


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