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Old 10-10-2016, 11:01 PM
88 posts, read 349,554 times
Reputation: 25


One of my employees told me a week ago that his wife has cancer. I cant stop thinking about it. He is almost my age, has two little kids like me and i cant imagine the tough time they are having. I have provided all I can, complete flexibility to leave whenever he wants and everything else. We have a great boss/employee relationship but nothing beyond that.

I dont know if I should ask him how his wife is doing, but i want to know. I want him to know that my wife and I are sending the best wishes to his family all the time. Ofcourse I want to keep the boss/employee boundary.

What can I say/do to make him feel like my family cares about him and that he can talk to me anytime he needs?

Let me know if I need to move this thread to a different section. Thanks
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Old 10-11-2016, 09:46 AM
Location: Columbia SC
7,976 posts, read 6,735,806 times
Reputation: 10720
As your employee, how much leeway do you have in giving him personal time to deal with situations arise? If you have leeway than take him aside and let him know you will work with him to accommodate his time needs.
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:59 AM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,863 posts, read 51,384,651 times
Reputation: 27750
Since you post here, I assume that you have reason to think the cancer will be fatal. To state the obvious, not all cancer is.

Handling a situation like you describe can be tricky. You are wise to recognize the employer/employee boundary. I've had many managers that didn't and were much poorer managers for it. No matter how great the relationship with the employee, and no matter how much you care, your "baby" is the business and your primary job is to protect it and thereby those it provides jobs for. If the employee ends up not handling the situation well and takes to drink or drugs or is a drain on the business, you have to be able to fire him. What you might not realize is that structure can be a lifeline in these situations, where when everything is going to sh*t there is something that remains stable, there are requirements that are not changing.

Once you cross into direct personal space, you can destabilize things. I'm not saying to not be concerned or caring, or not to make allowances, just know when it is time for a gentle conversation if work seems to be going off the rails. I hate to say it, but in some ways being a boss requires you to parent - even if the employee is fully aware and intelligent.

You do NOT want to put out that he can talk to you anytime he needs. Sorry. That is too open-ended. You can say that if he needs to talk, you are willing to listen - but don't encourage it. You can facilitate his getting professional counseling, but I suspect that the oncologist will already have that covered. From your post, I think you already have the basics well covered. If the insurance is through your company, there is bound to be some friction or frustration there. Listen, learn, do what you can to facilitate.
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Old 10-13-2016, 01:39 PM
Location: Cochise county, AZ
4,549 posts, read 3,016,703 times
Reputation: 9437
Does your firm have emergency family leave? I know when my son was in the burn unit my company went above and beyond, allowing other employees to donate vacation time until it was certain he would live.

This would be helpful if it's end stage or could be banked for surgeries or chemo appointments. HR handled all the arrangements and I never knew who donated their time.

My point is that it was all done very professionally.
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