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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

When personal issues affect employee performance:
An Employee Relations case study

Karen Smith has been employed in your department for six years. During her tenure she has been a valuable employee, although during the past two years you've observed a drop in her work performance due to tardiness and absenteeism. The whole department is aware that Karen is facing many problems at home, and her co-workers have covered for her and even completed work for her when necessary, but they are beginning to complain.

Although you had hoped that Karen's issues would improve and she would return to being the dependable employee you once knew, you must confront her about the work piling up.

When you meet with her the next morning and begin the discussion of her work performance, she starts to cry and tells you her husband has been abusive, her son is taking drugs, and she's been battling alcoholism and depression. You try to help her talk through these issues. You suggest that she visit the Employee Assistance Program and see her physician, and by the end of the meeting, she seems better. She leaves your office and starts a one-week vacation that you've just granted so she can begin to deal with these issues.

You feel she is taking steps to improve her situation. You realize that you never really did discuss her work performance, but you're confident that she'll be fine once she takes your advice.

What did this supervisor do right?

What could this supervisor have done better?

- Connie Reckowsky
   Employee Relations

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.