The R3 Continuum Playbook: How to Talk to Your Employer About Personal Disruption
When confronted with some disruptive circumstance, whether it’s simply being late to work or a more serious situation involving their mental health, employees must answer a few critical questions, including what to tell an employer. In this excerpt from a R3 Continuum webinar, Sarah Hathaway offers some advice on how to talk to your employer about personal disruption. The R3 Continuum Playbook is presented by R3 Continuum and is produced by the Minneapolis-St.Paul Studio of Business RadioX®. R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, the show which celebrates heroes in the workplace.
Other R3 Continuum webinars can be found here.
Intro: [00:00:00] Broadcasting from the Business RadioX Studios, here is your R3 Continuum Playbook. Brought to you by Workplace MVP sponsor, R3 Continuum, a global leader in workplace behavioral health, crisis, and security solutions.
Shane McNally: [00:00:14] Hi, there. My name is Shane McNally, Marketing Specialist for R3 Continuum. We’ve all experienced daily struggles in the workplace. Maybe the printer is jammed, WiFi issues, maybe someone just finished off the last of the coffee, the little things. But what about the greater disruptions that happen outside of the workplace in your personal life? It can be tough to open up to your employer to discuss issues that are happening in your personal life, but it’s something that should not be left unaddressed.
Shane McNally: [00:00:38] Sarah Hathaway, Associate Director of Strategic Solutions at R3 Continuum, offers expert insight into different strategies to approach your employer for support when faced with personal disruption.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:00:49] There are a few things to really think about when you are seeking support from your employer. The first one is, “What do I share? What do I tell my employer?” And depending on your circumstances, the answer to that question may vary. If it’s, “You know what? I got a flat tire and my car is going to be in the shop. And I’m going to need some flexibility today and I’m going to miss a meeting,” or something of that nature, that might be a little bit easier to have that conversation of here’s what’s going on.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:01:24] But if it’s a mental health condition or it’s a compounding of stressors, those are sometimes a little bit more difficult to articulate and they might be harder to figure out, “Where’s the line? What do I tell my employer?”
Sarah Hathaway: [00:01:39] Some factors that you can consider here are, first of all, what do they need to know? What information is necessary for them to understand the gravity of the situation? If I just say, “I have a personal concern and I’m going to need to be out of work for the next two weeks,” that might be a little bit hard for your supervisor to understand. So, it might be necessary to give a little bit more context to what’s going on. Or if it’s, “I’m going to be needing just some understanding. I might be late on a project,” that might be a little bit easier to understand.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:02:19] One of the other things that you’ll want to consider here is what are the potential ramifications of what I may share? It’s not necessary for you to share any medical and mental health diagnoses. And, oftentimes, employees are concerned about potential discrimination or what other ways that can have negative consequences.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:02:39] So, think about that here in what you’re going to share, and we can talk some more when we get to the question and answer about specific ways to manage that. But think about what is necessary for them to understand. Again, that gravity of the situation, and then what are you comfortable sharing, and what are the potential consequences of sharing.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:03:04] The next one is, who do you tell? And, oftentimes, the simplest answer is your direct supervisor. If there’s an impact to your work, let your supervisor know what that will be and what adjustments may need to be made. You may also want to notify human resources if you have any concerns about how this information may be perceived. Or if you’re in need of particular resources or accommodations, human resources may be necessary to notify as well.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:03:37] And then, the third option is your colleagues. Is this something that you want your colleagues to know about? Is there a reason that they should know? Keep those things in mind when planning to have those conversations.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:03:51] And then, third thing is to define what you need. And you’ll look at that in four areas. The first is, do I need problem solving? Do I need to talk with my manager about what are my next steps? What can I do here? Do we need to work together and collaborate to figure out a reasonable solution?
Sarah Hathaway: [00:04:14] Or maybe you don’t need any solution at all. Maybe you’re just looking for understanding of I might be a little bit late here, or I might show up midway through this meeting, or I might need a little bit of adjustment on deadlines. “I just need some understanding here of this is what I’m going through, and I want you to know so that you’re not wondering why I seem a little bit less reliable than usual.”
Sarah Hathaway: [00:04:41] The third is resources. Do you need any resources that your employer offers? That may be an employee assistance program. It could be your health insurance information. It could be other options that your employer offers. So, think about what resources your employer may offer or do you just not know and your manager or HR can help you figure that out.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:05:07] And then, the fourth piece is flexibility. Do you need time off? Do you need adjusted responsibilities at work for a period of time? If you’re requiring some level of flexibility, it’s important to communicate that to your manager.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:05:20] So, think about these four areas when you’re planning on talking with your manager or HR, and what exactly are you looking for from them. Because, oftentimes, when your manager doesn’t necessarily know what you’re looking for and you’re just bringing here what’s going on, they may jump to problem solving when that’s not what you need. And all you need is some understanding of the situation. And so, if you can come with the ask up front, it can be really helpful in determining how to move forward.
Shane McNally: [00:05:48] All right. Hey, I have a question to kind of jump in, in here as well. And it actually came up from that very first slide of what is a sign that somebody might need to reach out for support? Like, when is kind of enough is enough type of thing? Is there something where I should look inside and be like, “You know what? I do need to reach out?” Do you kind of have any thoughts on that?
Sarah Hathaway: [00:06:13] You know, that’s a really great question. I think there are a couple of signals that you might need to reach out. And the first is, if you’re coping with something where you need help, you need support, or maybe you just need a listening ear, somebody to understand what you’re going through. If you’re feeling like you need help, oftentimes, your employer has some type of a resource for that. Again, it may be your manager, maybe HR, or maybe something like that employee assistance program.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:06:42] The other indicators that you may need help is if there’s an impact to your work, if there’s an impact to your performance, or impact to availability or your reliability. Those are indicators that your manager probably needs to know what’s going on so that it isn’t viewed as just strictly a performance issue. If you can communicate at least semi-openly, again, there may be some things that you keep personal, keep to yourself. But if you can communicate at least on some level of what’s going on, that can help them to identify that there’s something else other than just a performance concern.
Sarah Hathaway: [00:07:18] And then, the third thing is, if you’re noticing any specific changes in your emotions, your behaviors, if you think that there may be some potential impact to your mental health, again, this is another opportunity to communicate with your employer about how to get support and resources.
Shane McNally: [00:07:41] It’s extremely important to know how and when to approach an employer about a personal disruption. Well, it can be difficult to do. It’s not impossible. R3 Continuum can help organizations ensure they’re offering the best support and resources available for their employees through our Workplace Behavioral Health Support Services. R3 Continuum offers a proactive support approach and tailors the services to fit the unique challenges of each workplace. Learn more about R3 Continuum services and contact us at www.r3c.com or email us directly at email@example.com.
R3 Continuum (R3c) is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, a show which celebrates the everyday heroes–Workplace Most Valuable Professionals–in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite who resolutely labor for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption.