Help with difficult conversations

An employee with strong support and resources is much more likely to stay in and be productive at work.

Having conversations that could be emotional or sensitive can seem daunting as an employer. But remember that an employee is primarily most likely to want to be listened to, offered a safe place to talk and to share any concerns or issues they may be having. Here are some tips to help you manage potentially difficult conversations:

  • Have a consistent and regular point of contact

  • If you are not sure what your employee would find helpful on their return, or during their pregnancy, to minimise any worries they may have, ask them

  • Helping women to recognise and act on workplace difficulties has the potential to reduce the incidence of anxiety amongst pregnant women and new mothers, resulting in significant improvements in women’s mental health over the longer term

  • Be aware that becoming a working parent is a big transition, and time scales of adjustment will vary from person to person. Suddenly the mental load is greater, with childcare and the well-being of your child to juggle around the working day

  • Don’t try to dictate the conversation, allow the employee to talk and explain their situation.

  • Be flexible. When you’re going through change, people need to know what they can depend on. So, setting some routines for when, and how, you’ll keep in touch can be really helpful. Equally, though, things can and do change – so check continually whether these routines are still working

  • Ensure there are channels and spaces to keep communication open. Keep staff updated, and positively invite questions, feedback and more conversation

Here are some possible conversation openers

How are you? How has your day been?
How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to help?
Would you like to grab a cuppa and have a chat?
Single Employer

Information for Employers

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