Everyone will experience some sort of personal issue or emergency in their life. Knowing how to handle the issue at work can be very important. To clarify personal issues, I am referring to the big ones: family sickness or death, major health issues or changes such as surgery, sickness, etc., major life changes such as marriage, divorce, pregnancy etc., court cases, and other major family issues.
I have had a few personal issues that I needed to deal with in the last few years of my career. These issues included multiple knee surgeries, a family death, and even a lawsuit with a former landlord. Most of these are things many employees may need to deal with during their career. I have learned from my experiences and I have outlined a few important tips for dealing with personal issues at work:
- Let your boss know. You do not have to (and in some situations should not) explain every detail, but if there is something important happening in your personal life, you need to fill your boss in. This allows them to make better workflow decisions, have your back if performance slips, and help understand if you need time off.
- Try to keep the personal calls/texts/emails to a minimum at work. This can be very hard, but your colleagues are trying to work too and if you are on a ton of personal calls, it can look bad. Step outside if you need to make a call or schedule calls during your lunch break. If a call does arise during the middle of the day just try to make it quick.
- Take a personal day if needed. I would much rather have an employee come to me and ask for a personal day then have them distracted and missing things at work. However, if you take the day, use it to take care of your personal matters – don’t binge watch Netflix all day and come back to work needing to make a ton of calls regarding the personal issue.
- Try to make up lost time if possible. After surgery I would schedule my physical therapy during my lunch break. If the session took longer than an hour, I would try to stay late to make up the time I was absent. You do not always need to make up every second, but putting in the extra time, if possible, can help you advance your career and its show that you can handle outside stressors.
Finally, this is also a good way to see how your employer handles these personal issues. If you handle your personal issues as best you can, it helps you see your employer’s ‘true colors’ so to speak. I have been lucky and my current employer handled these well. However, I know friends and family members who have not been so lucky. One friend was pressured into working more hours because they missed work due to sickness, and another friend whose employer asked them to consider not taking time off and miss a family funeral. If your employer handles this issues well that helps you be a loyal employee. If they don’t, maybe it helps you make up your mind about whether you want to stay at this company.
Just remember, everyone will experience some sort of personal issue at one point in their career. Try to handle it the best way you can to make sure your career is not affected.