Whether personal or professional, the quality of our relationships has an impact on our wellbeing. When people develop their relational capability skills, they get better at helping themselves and others to cope with challenging times, both at home and at work.
Research tells us that relationship issues don’t just affect life in the home. There is a clear link between relationship happiness and engagement and productivity at work. The happier a person is with their homelife, the more likely they are to be motivated to perform well at work.
There is a clear role for employers to play in ensuring that their employees are supported through challenging personal times, such as parenthood or the breakdown of a relationship. To help employers feel equipped to offer this support, we have launched a new training programme aimed at helping managers handle difficult conversions.
Relationship conversations is a new evidence-based training programme designed to help managers speak to employees about relationship issues in a way that ensures they feel listened to, supported, and empowered.
It isn’t about turning managers into counsellors for their staff. It’s about helping them to develop skills that will allow them to identify when people may need support, approach conversations sensitively, and find solutions that will help staff to cope with the challenges they are facing.
The training builds on OnePlusOne’s established Brief Encounters® Skills Training (B.E.S.T.) which has been shown to improve confidence and understanding in how to recognise and handle difficult issues. It includes up-to-date research evidence to help people develop their own relational capability skills which can be used in every aspect of life.
Of the professionals who completed the original B.E.S.T training, 100% said they would use the techniques learned to help them have conversations about relationships with employees or clients.
Tips for speaking to employees
To help keep things on track and ensure a supportive response when speaking to employees, we suggest following OnePlusOne’s OLPAC approach:
- Open mind. Relationship transitions can bring many challenges. Try to remember that the situation at home might affect how the person responds to you.
- Listening ear. The person you are talking to may be feeling vulnerable and exhausted. Offer a safe space for them to talk and make yourself available to listen.
- Patient response. Your employee may be experiencing daily changes in their circumstances, and things may get worse before they get better. Give it time.
- Accommodating nature. Be flexible around any practical changes your employee needs to manage. For example, they may need to sort out childcare or living arrangements.
- Culture of support. Offer flexibility to help staff manage work and family commitments. Even if you don’t have these conversations, you can support your employees by creating a culture in which it’s OK to adapt following personal challenges.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to offer support. Often, just asking people how they are doing is enough to start a conversation. Not everyone will want to talk. Sometimes it can be helpful to point people in the direction of supportive resources to use when they need them. What’s important is being ready to respond when an employee comes looking for support.