How does a company influence the way its employees communicate? Instead of attempting an overall communications strategy most organizations usually wait until a particular problem has made a significantly negative impact on the bottom line. Sometimes that means a catastrophe has occurred, which isn´t unusual when it comes to getting people´s attention. Yes, difficult times trickle through all our lives, but if we were to constantly be on the lookout for bad experiences we´d drive ourselves crazy. Still, some employees are better than others at handling difficult situations.
It´s important, though, that your managers are especially adept at dealing with problems that have the potential to be dangerous. Take domestic violence. How often is this discussed in a boardroom or in the hallways? But it´s on the rise and, unfortunately, when one of our colleagues is affected we could be involved as well if, say, the violence came to work. It´s happened before and so instead of pretending it´s someone else´s problem some companies are taking a proactive approach. Some companies, for instance, have set up programs that offer training on how to get help if domestic abuse is an issue. Executives and managers recognized that when someone leaves work and then must face the fear at home of an abusive spouse or partner, then it affects one´s productivity and that impacts the bottom line.
But it´s not just about educating employees and giving them the strategies they need to communicate their problems (both at work and at home). It´s about sending a very important message about the company´s investment in its people. The message is we care about you, we care about your performance on the job, and we can offer some help if you need it. Then, of course, it´s up to the employee to take the initiative and get the help he or she needs. But don´t expect people to take that step if they´re worried that by doing so they may lose their job. Believe it or not, putting food on the table, unfortunately, often takes precedence over protection oneself and one´s family.
You may still question whether or not a company has a responsibility to educate its employees about issues like domestic violence or even what a family endures during a major illness. We´re a country that has a lot of health problems and the more support we can get wherever we are the better. The office isn´t a bad place to start. What do you think?