I am seeking the opinons and advice of this fine collection of people who all want to improve themselves as managers and leaders. I imagine amongst this group there are a number of managers who have experience with my current situation.
I currently have a team member who is going through a personal crisis outside work. I am aware of this because there have been several outward displays in the office. I have a very good idea about what is happening but I don't know that it is helpful to be specific here. I don't think it changes drastically how a manager handles the situation. Let's just say that it is a relationship break-up, a divorce, an illness or death of someone close to them, perhaps even a family member and they have already been on leave, any significantly real event that could cause someone to experience real grief, and possibly even depression. There have been days where the employee has been crying for multiple hours. Other team members, feeling uncomfortable, have actually left the work area and gone home because they just couldn't bear it. The employee comes in late or not at all, often looking very ragged and unkempt in the office.
When there have been good days, it is obvious that other team members are still steering away. I have even heard rumor and gossip conversations of an almost high-school-like nature. There is definitely a stigma that is developing. I believe that general productivity is being effected not just for the employee in question, but from some perceived lack of pressure on others because they obviously won't be looked at as slacking the most during this time.
I am fighting a lot of personal biases which I have about people's personal lives in the workplace. I am fairly conservative in this regard. The approach I am taking really is figuring out what is best for the organization. I can see that the situation is having a negative impact. I want to minimize that impact. If in the process I can help this person that is great, but mainly I want to do what is best for all.
There are two apsects for which I am seeking the advice of this community.
First is what to do with the person directly. We don't a seperate HR organization built to handle this type of thing. We don't have a very robust benefits package which includes counseling or additional temporary leave programs other than those required by law. So I have concerns about privacy and imposing. It is not the type of thing I would want someone to approach me about whether or not it was effecting my work. If was not impacting the working environment I certainly wouldn't broach the subject.
Second is what, if anything, should I do with my team to combat the stigma. At a previous company, a peer was dealing with a similar thing without even as much of an emotional display. Just some impression that they were very very down for a long period of time. The isolation that followed in the organization from people's reactions never dissipated and eventually became cyclically feeding on itself. The team never became a fully functional group and there was always that exclusion factor for the individual.
Any feedback is appreciated, even if it is simply things people have tried in similar situations.