Another update from the Jungle….
Kathy was a solid performer for her company until about a year ago. She rarely missed work and she was always prepared for meetings. Then she fell off a cliff.
Her cliff had many causes. About a year ago, her mother began showing signs of dementia. Kathy’s siblings long since moved away, so Kathy’s been taking her mother to doctor’s appointments and filling out Medicare claims forms. She’s reached the stage where she loathes the “plain English” of Medicare forms.
Her husband, Bob, is helping more after being laid off his job a few months ago. But Kathy’s mother no longer recognizes Bob and won’t leave the house with him. That means his
biggest contribution is cooking most of their meals. Since this involved reorganizing all the kitchen cabinets, Kathy’s not convinced he’s helping her.
About six months ago, Kathy began taking medication for depression and anxiety. The medication leaves her feeling like she’s underwater. It affects her ability to concentrate. She now has the attention span of a three-year-old on a chocolate high.
Her boss is running out of patience with her sloppy work and blown deadlines. Of
course, he doesn’t know all the gory details because Kathy’s too embarrassed by her screwed up life to tell him. She always prided herself on her professional competence.
Today, her boss calls her in for another performance review. He’s angry about a blown deadline and considers firing Kathy. But that would mean finding and training a replacement. It would also mean losing Kathy’s years of knowledge of the company and its culture.
What options are available to Kathy’s boss?
- He can proceed to the next phase of the progressive discipline policy which is firing Kathy for poor performance.
- He can keep limping along and hope that Kathy’s personal life improves.
- He can ask the HR representative if there other options for resolving Kathy’s situation without firing her.
The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents. As the population ages, more baby boomers are finding themselves caring for incapacitated parents and assisting unemployed adult children. Businesses are not charitable organizations and they can’t fix their employees’ problems. But they can support employees by adopting flexible work schedules and creating referral lists to local organizations that provide eldercare and other social support programs.
If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.
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