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How to Handle Personal Matters,

Without Jeopardizing Your Job As professionals, we all face many challenges as we move forward in our careers. Our employers give us projects to tackle, deadlines to meet and objectives to achieve.

Life itself sometimes places adverse events in our paths that test us both personally and professionally, and we must deal with them as they come. Family emergencies, such as the illness or death of a loved one, represent examples of such events. They force us to adjust the delicate balance that we struggle and strive to achieve: the balance between our lives inside and outside of the workplace.

Fortunately, caring for our loved ones in their times of need while still trying to earn a living doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Below are some tips and suggestions that can help during times when we are torn between our jobs and those close to us.

Go Through the Proper Channels


Employees facing times of family crisis should at least verbally inform their supervisors of the situation at hand. Additionally, companies and organizations often require their employees to fill out leave request forms and then submit them to their supervisors for approval. Each organization or company has different policies, so those needing to take time off from work to deal with family emergencies should consult their human resources offices for additional information. Follow standard operating procedures in any case.

Seek Out Helpful Resources

Help in times of crisis can come from both inside and outside the workplace.

Common resources found in-house include Web sites and human resources offices and personnel. Both can provide needed information, and also can help ease employee minds and lives when they are torn between work and family.

Some employers, particularly federal offices, have employee assistance programs. Such programs provide various services like counseling and referrals for other forms of assistance.

Resources that employees can find outside of the workplace can come from friends and family. Significant people in our lives can help us bear some of the burdens imposed by emergencies that arise. They can give us breaks from tasks at home that we would normally handle and allow us to attend to other responsibilities. They can also provide emotional support by listening to us and being there when we need them.

Keep Lines of Communication Open


It’s always a good idea to keep supervisors abreast of what is happening and how the crisis is being resolved. Doing so helps maintain a healthy relationship between supervisor and employee, and may inspire the supervisor to be more understanding should complications arise.

Standard operating procedures may not require employees to maintain regular contact with their superiors, but doing so does fall in line with good business practices. It may sound simple, but keeping in touch with people back at the office can help make life a lot easier when juggling family emergencies and issues in the workplace.

Achieve the Balance


There’s no question that family emergencies can place tremendous strains on our personal and professional lives. However, there are steps we can take to help balance the needs to earn a living and to be there for our loved ones when they need us the most.

-- Mr. Whitehead is a graduate student at South DakotaStateUniversity.

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