Shortly after I started my career in HR I met with an employee who was in the progressive discipline process for attendance issues. In the meeting, we were trying to help her get to the root of the problem when she confided in me that her attendance issues were the result of an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.
Being new to HR, I wasn’t sure what to do. I connected her with a local domestic violence shelter and offered a personal leave for her to get the assistance that she needed. It wasn’t enough. She was murdered not long after our meeting.
I always wished I could have done more in that situation and have worked to have better success with employees suffering from abuse since then.
HR professionals are often in a unique position to identify employees who need help and to guide them to the appropriate resources. Here are some signs that an employee is being abused:
• Unusual or frequent absences
• Unexplained bruises or injuries
• Significant changes in work performance
• Noticeable fatigue
If you notice these signs, ask the employee if they need help. They may or may not share details of their situation with you, but you can still provide them with contact information for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a local shelter like the YWCA, or mental health services. Do not try to function as their therapist unless you are qualified and authorized to do that work.
If you believe that they are in immediate danger, report the situation to the police and take steps to protect them and your other employees in the workplace.
Finally, identifying abuse can require attention to subtle changes in an employee’s performance and demeanor. Be on the lookout for the signs. You might just save a life.
Meet Kevin Brozovich, energetic entrepreneur, people-focused team-builder and HR practitioner-turned consultant. For almost 10 years, Kevin was Founder and Chief People Officer of HRM Innovations, a Kalamazoo-based Human Resources consulting firm many would consider the top in the region. After pulling his hair out making daily decisions about running the business (does it matter where the coffee comes from?), Kevin joined forces with the Rose Street Advisors team so he could solely focus on what he loves most: working with clients.