When you’re the owner of a business, you come to appreciate and care for your employees. They’ve been there to help you achieve your goals, and you want to be there to support them however you can.
Sometimes that means supporting them in times of hardship, like if they experience a death in the family or illness.
Other times, you may find that your employee is struggling with mental health or addiction problems, and they need to go to treatment. In this case, it’s best that you’re informed and knowledgeable about how to approach this situation. Read on for tips on how to help your employee get the help they need and return to work even stronger and more motivated.
Explaining their options
So, let’s say your employee came to you and confided that they have a substance abuse issue. They’re confident that a treatment center will help them kick the habit, and they wanted to be upfront with you about taking time off work.
In this case, assure them that they won’t lose their job over the decision to seek treatment. Legally, people pursuing addiction or mental health treatment are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and cannot be fired for going to rehab.
Also, look into where your business falls in regards to the Family and Medical Leave Act. For employees who qualify, they may be entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to unspecified medical or family reasons.
Confidentiality and assigning their duties
Assure your employee that you will uphold the utmost confidentiality about their leave. It’s not your place to tell anyone where they’ve gone, and legally you are obligated to not reveal any information about their whereabouts.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with the employee about how their work duties will be covered while they’re absent.
There are a few ways you could go about this. Your employee could tell their coworkers that they need to take leave – they can be as open about this as they want. Many people choose to say that they have to take time off for medical purposes and leave it at that.
After they tell their colleagues that they’ll be gone, they can work with them to decide who will cover their tasks while they’re gone.
On the other hand, some people may not feel comfortable discussing this topic with their colleagues. They’re likely operating out of a lot of anxiety, and this could be a very triggering conversation for them.
Additionally, many people go to rehab with relatively short notice. Your employee may come to you on Friday, letting you know they’ll be heading to treatment on Monday. In this case, it’s vital to support them in taking this momentous step in getting their life back, and assure them that you’ll take care of spreading out their work duties.
Now, on Monday, you’ll need to speak to each employee who is going to take over new responsibilities in the short term. It’s often best to have these conversations privately with each person, rather than having a meeting and announcing it to everyone at once.
Simply say that your employee will be gone for an extended period of time – you can cite how long if you know at this point – and you’re asking them for support in making sure their duties are fulfilled until they can get back.
Realize that some people may be shocked at the news and may innocently ask questions. Or, they may feel blindsided and overwhelmed with the onset of more responsibilities. It’s best to remain calm, give them space to voice their opinions (while not revealing any information), and express gratitude for helping out at this time.
*Depending on the treatment center, the person may have access to their phone and laptop while attending rehab. In this case, they may be able to be in on key meetings or even stay somewhat connected via email. This can help make the transition easier for all parties involved.
What to look for in a treatment center
Maybe your employee has come to you knowing they want to go to treatment, but they don’t know where to go. In this case, if you feel comfortable, you can lend a hand in researching different treatment options.
This can be incredibly helpful because depending on your employee’s mental state, they may not be in the best headspace to do this on their own.
So what do you look for? Well, there are several key factors to consider.
Is your employee using insurance to pay for their treatment? Or are they paying upfront? This piece of information will drastically impact their options for treatment, so this is something to find out before you start looking into programs.
Additionally, if your employee doesn’t know what your business’s health insurance covers as far as treatment, you can reach out to the healthcare plan and inquire about their coverage for your employee’s plan.
Next, consider if your employee wants to travel for rehab or stay close to home. It’s often said that traveling has many benefits for mental health – including getting out of one’s normal environment – but that’s not always an option for everyone. See if they have somewhere in mind, and look into facilities in that area.
After considering a location, think about what kind of program will most closely connect with your employee. Do they attend church several times a week? A religious program maybe for them. Do they practice yoga and meditation? A holistic program that addresses their mind, body, and spirit, like The Exclusive Hawaii, may be the ideal choice for them. Do they struggle with co-occurring disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD? Consider looking into dual diagnosis treatment centers.
Be supportive and non-judgemental
At the end of the day, even if they don’t ask for any help in finding treatment and just tell you of their plans, be as supportive and nonjudgemental as possible. It is a very courageous thing to seek treatment, but also a very scary decision.
Assure them that you’re cheering them on, and you can’t wait to see their transformation when you see them post-treatment.