Helping an employee experiencing “life”

Much of my clinical practice, has been helping people with complex pain or health needs. I feel very comfortable managing clients coming to me for help. Little had I realised the considerable intersections between leadership and clinical skills. Each one of these skills is rooted in human behaviour and neuroscience. From my ongoing leadership study, I have found that there have been significant benefits to my clinical work with a deeper understanding of the role of empathy, having commitment conversations along with a focus on motivational interviewing, cognitive functional rehabilitation, education, and empowering people to take control of their health care.

Health business owners are no different from other employers. We are likely to be in a position at some stage to support someone in our employment undergoing a health concern or managing a chronic health condition This will extend to employees experiencing significant life events, such as the death of a close family member, divorce, or difficulty with their children. The full human experience. The question for us as their employers is how much support can we give them?

Let us unpack that for a minute. You are busy and it can feel like another thing to have to deal with. You might consider that it is not your role and that they should be seeking support outside of the workplace. You might be concerned about how the problem will impact productivity within the practice. Or be concerned about how long it will go on?

This is a situation where those overlapping skills of being a clinician with a focus on listening, being empathetic, helping to identify the main problems, and helping to come up with a range of solutions to empower our clients are closely aligned with those required to support an employee. We are exceptional at looking after our patients and we should all be exceptional at looking after our staff when they are struggling. It is the human thing to do. Interestingly it can feel difficult when the context is changed.

A couple of months ago, I was asked if I would do an interview for the Institute of Managers and Leaders newsletter on how to support an employee with chronic health needs. The essential message is to care, listen and empower. The problem is not yours to fix. Exactly the same as caring for your clients. Caring for others within your workplace is a basis for a strong culture and will have broader influences on your team engagement, retention, and performance. Your employee, your workplace, and you will be better for it.

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