Leader Lessons: How to have a conversation with an employee who is visibly reaching their breaking point

All jobs have peaks and flows—some seasons are more stressful than others. And depending on what’s happening outside the office, your employees may also have peaks and flows in their personal lives. When you combine in-office and out-of-office stress, you have a recipe for how well your workers are able to handle all the responsibility being thrown at them… and sometimes they can’t. It happens to everyone. As an employer, it’s important to be able to recognize signs an employee is going through a hard time, and step in to try to help. Just follow this advice from a leading provider of hiring support in Georgia—Happy Faces Personnel Group.

Signs an Employee is Stressed

The easiest sign of an employee reaching their breaking point is a change in their demeanor. Someone who was once outgoing and chatty may become withdrawn. An employee who was previously patient may be quicker to frustration and anger. In general, a stressed out employee will probably seem tired, cranky and not quite themselves.

Five things you can do to Help

Be gentle with the employee, approach them and schedule some time to talk, one-on-one. Then follow these four tips:

Listen First. Talk Second.

Sometimes, an upset person may just need someone to lend an ear. Explain that you’ve noticed a change in their behavior and you’re concerned. Remain an impartial third party, but listen to what they have to say. Depending on the nature of the issue, simply listening may be enough.

Be Supportive

If the employee needs help, offer it. Are they struggling with a project that’s more than they can handle? Do responsibilities need to be re-assigned? Maybe they’ve been working short-handed for too long and it’s time to add another staff member or two. Once you’ve heard them out, make plans together for how to improve the situation.

Encourage Time Off

If the person is having trouble at home, time off to handle family matters can help—or to just take a vacation, breathe and refocus. Time off can help a stressed employee relax a little and get back into the swing of things.

Provide Wellness Opportunities

It’s important for your workers to take care of themselves—stress is easier to manage when you feel good. This includes exercise, healthy eating, and even mindfulness. Wellness programs are a great way to support your employees in good health and can include a wide range of resources, such as reimbursed gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, healthy eating seminars, onsite yoga, walking clubs and much more.

Schedule a Time to Catch Up

Once you’ve talked to the employee and come up with a plan to help, schedule time for a later date when you can touch base again and see how things are going. Knowing you’re concerned for their well-being can go a long way in helping employees feel valued, which is an important component in job satisfaction.

Time to Staff Up?

If your employees are overworked, it may be time to add a few more. And if you’re in search of workers in Atlanta, Georgia, contact Happy Faces Personnel Group! We’ll work with you to understand your staffing goals and build a strategy that works.


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