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Everyone is subject to the risk of setbacks, which lower their productivity in the short term but should not impinge their long-term value to employers.

Too often, people who have much to offer are marginalised when it would be better for them and their company, if they were supported instead.

There are relatively simple steps employers can take to foster a more inclusive workplace and retain talent, which may otherwise be lost.

From a serious illness or accident, to burnout, domestic abuse, divorce, parenthood or the menopause, everyone in the workforce may at some point face a challenge, which holds them back at work. Sandhya Iyer from The HR Dept, Sevenoaks looks at the value to employers in proactively supporting staff during these times, rather than allowing them to be side-lined.

Anyone could suffer a mental or physical breakdown or some other adversity. With a bit of nurturing, they could recover from it, as long as the employer thinks with a long-term mindset.

So, why should employers go the extra mile? If they don’t, years of knowledge, experience and investment the company has made, are lost. Small businesses employ lean teams. There is lot that goes into nurturing employees to inculcate the culture of a small business. It would be a shame to lose your most valuable investment, when a little thought and support could benefit everyone!

Using the menopause as an example, how can employers manage it, so it does not spell the end of a promising career? Many women find themselves squeezed out of promotion opportunities, or even worse their job, during this time. It is more common that we all think…even in this day and age! A starting point to initiate these sensitive conversations would be to draft and share a policy with your staff. It will show that you as an employer, are cognizant of this issue, and are willing to support anyone who is grappling with it. We’d also suggest training managers to recognise the symptoms and be able to discuss openly and honestly about how it is affecting an employee’s performance. Some women become forgetful and complain of brain fog during this time. Fatigue is another common issue. So, would a shorter working day or flexible work arrangements help? Encourage conversations in a sensitive manner to find solutions to these questions. Ensure that solutions that you put in place, strike the right balance between your employee’s personal needs and your operational needs on performance.

Having your managers switched on and receptive to finding positive solutions, will likely generate far better value for your organisation in the long term. Most adjustments are relatively easy to incorporate, and with a shift in mindset, can benefit anyone within the workforce, not just women during the menopause. For instance, those responsible for a relative’s care, those going through chemotherapy or long-term physiotherapy, could all benefit.

To reinforce management training, you could draft a policy that covers support throughout an employee’s career with you. And that way you build a cohesive and diverse work ethic.

Whether it be women during the menopause, or any staff member during moments of adversity during their career, making reasonable adjustments not only protects your staff, but also protects the investment you have made in your teams. This ensures that you retain your staff’s knowledge and experience, and win their loyalty too.

For further enquiries on these areas of support, please contact Sandhya Iyer from The HR Dept, at [email protected] or on 01732 622 209.

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