how to address sensitive issues at work

Some problems that arise in the workplace touch on sensitive personal issues. These issues need careful handling if they are to be dealt with effectively, while also avoiding claims of harassment and discrimination.

Touchy subjects are difficult to bring up, and even the most experienced managers often struggle. Sometimes you might have to speak to someone about bad body odour, or issues with their personal life that are affecting their performance. Maybe an employee has been taking too much time off sick, drinking too much, or behaving inappropriately.

It can often be tempting to dodge the issue or hope it solves itself, but failing to tackle these issues can make things worse in the long run, both for the person and those around them.

Here are some tips on how to make awkward discussions less awkward:

Nip it in the bud

One of the key things is to deal with things early on. When certain issues are allowed to linger on, they are more prone to escalate.

It might help you to jot down some notes or read up on the issues before having a conversation. Make sure you are focused on the problem at hand, and not thinking about the rest of your to-do list during times like this.

Professional over personal

We cannot stress this one enough – rather than discussing personality traits, focus on the employee’s work and how you can prevent the issue from not only affecting their productivity but possibly their colleagues’ as well

Concern or prying?

Certain problems are not related to bad behaviour, but still affect one’s performance. Family problems and illness are touchy subjects – do show your employees that you care, but over-asking can make them uncomfortable.

Privacy is more important than you think

Some offices no longer have multiple rooms for different people or departments but are working in a more open space. Make sure that when taking someone aside to discuss sensitive topics, it is done so appropriately.

A meeting room is your best option, and we recommend booking it for longer than you might think; there is nothing worse than someone barging in during a difficult conversation.

Introduce an EAP

Discussing sensitive topics in the workplace will never be easy. Our best advice is to know your employees on a deeper level so you can discover the best way to help them deal with their issues. You could always introduce workplace counselling for your team, otherwise known as an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme).  The results are truly amazing!

If you’re struggling with sensitive issues at work, we offer corporate EAP support through our sister company, ThinkTalent, as well as personal development coachingteam building programmes, and management training.  Contact us here at Ceek Recruitment to discuss how we can help you support your team.

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