Discussing Personal Issues at Work
Opening up at work...
Okay, we know this isn’t a common stance, after all what happens outside of work is nobody else's business, right? Well, not quite. In certain jobs (such as hospitality or labour work) it’s not uncommon for managers or other colleagues to take an interest in other people’s personal lives. It is less common in office roles though so if this is something you’ve just experienced and you’re usually a private person you may be thinking “leave me alone!” If this scenario rings true you may have a number of questions whirling round your head such as: “can opening up about my personal life get me into trouble or impact my job prospects?” or “shouldn’t I keep work professional and stick to the proper business conversations?” or even “I don’t understand why they want to know?”
If you read a number of forums or even talk to a few family and friends you’re sure to find mixed views on this topic. On the one hand, some people will advise you to never tell your team about your private life and maybe there should only be one, maybe two colleagues who are privy to this information. This is a standard view point, as it could make things messy and there is no real need to do so, is there?
On the other hand…maybe opening up could help you when you face a sticky situation at home? After all can you really say that there is no connection between your job and your home life?
Here’s an interesting fact: poor work-family balance has been defined as one of the most common job stressors in the workplace.
One way to try and counter the stress of building a work-family balance is to try and create some meaningful relationship with colleagues at work. As any other type of personal relationship, sharing aspects of your personal life can help you connect and better understand each other. This bond is proven to be important to success and satisfaction at work, so it’s worth thinking about it. We’re not suggesting you go and openly talk about every intimate detail of your personal life but sharing your family life, what you did at the weekend or what your family goals are could help create connections that help serve you better down the line.
You should start sharing with your manager
Okay, so talking with colleagues may help but surely these type of conversations should be kept away from your manager? Well, it may surprise you to hear that we actively encourage sharing your life with your manager at First Response. It’s been found that employers, especially those who feel proud of providing a good working environment are usually willing to discuss personal matters in order to help their staff improve work-family balance. The main reason for it, aside from doing the right thing, is that a good balance helps job satisfaction and long term performance whilst a poor balance is indicative of low engagement and may end up with you searching for another job sooner than anticipated.
Think about it, it’s not that farfetched to think that a staff member would leave a job because their manager doesn’t understand their family needs. Things like doctor’s appointment or family emergencies crop up and having a manager that understands your needs as an employer does tend to drive a better work-life balance.
Of course we’re not saying to share everything with your boss. The golden rule would be to share anything that can affect your job performance and can keep you from fulfilling your commitments. It’s all about sharing potential problems to enable your manager to help you rather than hinder you to the point of thinking you cannot cope or even start thinking about more suitable job roles. Obviously this doesn’t mean venting every single frustration to your boss but talking things through may help you be best version of yourself in work.
Be clever and understand your company culture
However, let’s face it, not all the companies are the same when it comes to supporting employees or understanding how some aspects of your life can have an impact on your job (and vice versa). For that reason, it’s good for you to gauge your work environment before making the decision to share your personal life at work.
Before you open up, think about whether your colleagues or managers are people oriented? Do they encourage people to bond and talk about what concerns them? If you are lucky enough to work for a company that understand the value of listening to their employees, this is your opportunity to make the most of the situation.
Here at First Response, we believe in people bringing their authentic selves to work not only through sharing aspects that you may need support with but also sharing your personal lives and interests. In fact, we pay for our employees to have a team day out each quarter in order to drive this bond and make sure people are working together as a team. At the end of the day, your job is going to fill a large part of your life, so get to know each other and make it enjoyable!