By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM / Published May 2016
Editor’s Note: Part I of this article was published in the March issue of FLCAJ.
As an employee with family/personal, financial, and health issues, how do you handle your work too? What would you like/expect from your employer?
Mariann Gerwig, CFO, GC, HI, Realtor, CAM, Carousel Development & Restoration, Delray Beach: Depending on the situation, we have given the employee a safe place to discuss the issue, given them time off to address issues, and/or worked out a schedule of working from home and office if needed.
Bernie Mapili, Mapili CPAs & Associates, Winter Park: Being the owner of a family-focused business, we have the same issues. Get the targeted jobs done on time and anything else can be done as needed.
Paul Brawner, CAM, Alliance Association Services Group, FCAP Member, Tallahassee: The last two bosses I had were extremely family-friendly, in the sense that they believed family came first. If an employee had problems in the family and needed time to take care of it, they were very supportive. I know from time to time an employee would take advantage of them, but the overwhelming majority of employees respected it and worked harder to repay the support and loyalty. I was one of them. But through those situations, my boss always supported me and worked with me to make sure I was there to help my family. I never forgot that and always worked harder and longer to repay the kindness. I was loyal to a fault. As a new boss, I worked very hard to incorporate that culture into my management approach. I don’t regret for one second handling things as my predecessors did.
Matt Kuisle, PE, Reserve Advisors, Tampa: I think we need to differentiate between financial issues and the theoretical family/personal/health issues. My job is my biggest source of income (and I think this is true for most people). Therefore, if I were to run into financial issues, I would have to work more, spend less, and/or find another job (think evenings/weekend) to supplement my income. If my employer was not able to offer compensation that would meet my financial needs, I would have to look elsewhere and would not expect my employer to make changes due to my personal financial situation.
For health/family/personal issues, I would like and expect my employer to be flexible and to offer some paid benefit time (a week maybe) as well as unpaid time as mentioned above. In certain situations, a flexible work schedule may be possible to allow employees to work outside of normal working hours or outside of the normal office environment. In today’s world, it is becoming easier to stay connected 24/7, in the office or remotely.
Steve Kirschner, Mediator/CPA, Boynton Beach: I would appreciate the same understanding and respect as above.
Stephanie Wyland, CAM, Office Manager, Coastal Realty & Management, St. Augustine: My employer is very understanding when something important comes up, like a doctor’s appointment for my son or me. The problem with working M–F from 8:00–5:00 is that that is when most doctors’ offices are open, and you are stuck making an appointment during your normal time. We get an hour for lunch working this daily schedule, so we can take a lunch hour to accommodate that.
Gary Gamache, Clermont: I’m self-employed, but I would expect some patience and understanding. I would also understand that business is business; the work and customers must be taken care of.
How should an employer respond who is depending on his/her employees to keep the business afloat?
Gerwig: Employers that depend on certain people to keep the business afloat and do not have contingencies in place to cover the work load of an employee are doing themselves a disservice. Nobody is indispensable, and no one should be in the position to critically affect the health of a business.
Mapili: A good employer has loyal employees committed to and excelling in their craft. If the employees don’t love the work, they shouldn’t be there from either perspective.
Brawner: Genuinely care for the employee. Be understanding and supportive, but also be very clear in detailing how important their role is to the future of the company. Be clear on the expectations, and hold regular meetings to discuss how things are going.
Kuisle: Clearly state and follow up on the expectations from above.
Kirschner: At the risk of being repetitive, if both employer and employee practice the above, most situations can be resolved.
Wyland: There needs to be a connection and comfort level that exist between the employer and the employee in order to take care of personal emergencies or issues that arise. If the employer can’t handle it on an emotional level, then hire an HR manager who can.
Gamache: I try to give an employee as much time off as I can without hurting the business. If changes have to be made, and the employee has been hard working and loyal, I will try to rehire them when things improve.
Dan Gleason, CAM, CFCAM, Gleason Association Management, FCAP Member, West Palm Beach: Most of my employees were pretty good at keeping business separate from their personal lives. However, I do not think any employer can expect to keep a strict division of business from personal lives. The employee who cannot leave the workplace without taking work home is a problem, just as is the employee who insists on dumping their personal lives on the work staff. It affects morale and productivity. The answer for me was personal contact to fathom the reasons for the behavior and to cooperatively arrive at solutions for the benefit of the company. That required more of my time, but it was less expensive than a new hire. In my experience, the larger the company, the less likely it is that an employee is going to get that kind of individual attention. The emphasis is on profitability, so the least time devoted to deviant behavior improves the bottom line. It simply makes better sense to those employers to cut losses and move on with a new hire.
And how should an employee respond who is dealing with difficult issues (financial, marital, parental, etc.) in talking with his/her boss when it is clear that work is being impacted?
Gerwig: The employee should not keep these issues a secret from their supervisor. If they do, it will appear that they are not able to handle the work required by their position. If the employee lets his supervisor know what is going on, adjustments can be made to possibly lighten the employee’s work load or some other arrangements.
Mapili: As a small business, that’s the catch: target goals must be achieved by the team as a whole even if one person is somewhat out of commission, but as a small business, we can’t sustain not firing on all cylinders for very long. We focus on family first year-round, so that unless it’s an accident/cancer, we would hope folks are handling their families in a God-honoring way before it’s too late.
Brawner: Be as honest as possible. Be up front with the employer, let them know about the challenges, and ask for help.
Kuisle: As I mentioned above, honest and frequent communications are paramount to determine how work is being impacted. I think most good leaders truly care about the overall well-being of their employees and will take actions to make sure they are able to focus their energy where it is needed most, even if that is not at work.
Kirschner: I think your key words are “respond” and “talking.” Communication is essential from both sides.
Wyland: An employer should be able to provide constructive criticism on an evaluation of the employee, regardless of what is causing the lack of work from being completed. If the employee gives that excuse, certain compromises can be made, perhaps—I think it would depend upon the situation. If the business is suffering, then redistribution of duties may be needed.
Gamache: In my short experience, I found people understand my viewpoint, but don’t much care about what the business needs to stay afloat. They seem to worry solely about themselves and their situation. They expect even the smallest business to make the “one” exception for them.
Do you have any other thoughts? They would be appreciated!
Gerwig: I feel that employees need to be treated as appreciated assets to the company and part of a team. They should not be looked at as just another cog in the wheel of business. When employees know you care about them, they will work harder for you.
All of my comments above are based on employees who truly have issues going on in their lives that are important. It is different than my opinion on how to address “drama queens or kings” who simply are looking for attention.
Kirschner: All the above being said, it is still a business; and if the above approach(s) don’t work, terminating the relationship—permanently or temporarily—may be unavoidable.
Kia Ricchi, GC, The Contractress, St. Cloud: Self-employed people are really susceptible to mixing personal and business life, probably because many of us work from home.
Gleason: For me there is little distinction between work and personal. I am never working. I am instead doing something I love for the first time since I taught in college.
The work environment has definitely changed with the advent of electronic communications. Employees, employers, and the self-employed should take time to reevaluate their views on the separation (or not) of work and personal life. Each will likely find their own unique combination of what is best for them. The challenge will then be to find the work environment that supports those preferences!
Every person has a call on their life—a special purpose. Work should provide you with the time, money, opportunity, or connections that allow you to pursue your life purpose.