Supporting colleagues through challenging times

On this page, we look at some common challenges your colleagues may face, and ways you can support them through these difficulties.

Our collective responsibility

As colleagues, it’s our responsibility to support each other through challenging times. This is especially true for employers and managers. Knowing we are, or will be, supported at work if we’re going through a difficult time can help us to thrive in our roles. This is because it increases our levels of trust, reduces stress and boosts our sense of belonging within the team.

As well as being essential in promoting positive staff wellbeing, feeling supported at work helps towards having positive working conditions. Having good working conditions make good business sense. With good working conditions, there is more chance the pharmacy team will have the capacity to respond to unforeseen challenges and the resilience to bounce back from difficult events. This page looks at some common challenges your colleagues may face, and how you can support them. 

What are challenging times?

Everyone faces different adversities throughout their lives. Some challenges may be easier for some people to manage, however there are common challenges which are more likely to impact us, including:

  • Addiction
  • Bereavement
  • Financial difficulties
  • Mental health difficulties
  • Physical health problems
  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Workplace issues (such as bullying, burnout and stress).

How to spot if someone is struggling

In some cases, such as bereavement, it may be obvious or your colleague may open up that they are struggling. In other circumstances, people might be struggling in silence. People who work closely with one another are often the first to spot changes in someone’s mood or behaviour. As everyone is different, it’s important to understand what could be their signs that something could be wrong. What may be normal personality traits or habits, for example smoking, for one person, might be an indication of going through adversity for someone else. However, certain behaviours could indicate that a colleague may be struggling, and these often happen gradually. These include:

  • changes in their regular habits and routines
  • a drop in their productivity, focus and motivation levels
  • restlessness
  • changes in how they interact with their colleagues and patients
  • emotional volatility
  • finding it difficult to organise their workload, make decisions or problem solve
  • appearing down, withdrawn, detached, tired, anxious
  • isolating themselves from social interaction
  • no longer participating in activities they once enjoyed
  • changes in appearance (such as rapid weight loss/gain, neglecting hygiene and basic self care, etc.)
  • displaying other unusual or unpredictable behaviours.

It’s important to remember that you are not trying to diagnose your colleague. Instead, this list aims to provide a useful reminder on typical mood or behaviours which may indicate someone is struggling.

Colleagues are often the first people to spot mood or behaviour changes in one another

On this page, we look at some common challenges your colleagues may face, and ways you can support them through these difficulties.

How to support a colleague who may be going through challenging times

Even when you know someone is struggling, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might be concerned about causing upset or offense, or simply having misread the situation. However, it’s usually better to offer help to someone, than do nothing at all.

Firstly, it’s important to recognise who is the most appropriate person to help your colleague. This may be you, or it may be their line manager, human resources or a close friend/colleague. If it isn’t you, you could then approach the best person and, in a way which is respectful to the colleague you’re concerned about, let them know about your concerns. If you are the most appropriate person to deal with and support a colleague, here are some tips on how you might approach different challenging times:

Addiction

If you know a colleague is struggling with addiction issues, you may want to direct them to help that is available to them. At Pharmacist Support, we offer an Addiction Support service for pharmacists experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating disorders or other types of dependency.

Find out more about Addiction Support

You can also find a lot of information and support on our website for different dependency issues, including:


Bereavement

To support a grieving colleague, it’s important to strike the right balance between doing (such as informing them of work policies in a timely manner), and being (such as being a shoulder to cry on). It can be difficult to know what to say or do. This handy leaflet provides tips on how to have that difficult conversation and support colleagues through loss.

Download How to have difficult conversations: talking about bereavement

Your colleague might also find our page about coping with bereavement useful.


Financial difficulties

If you know a colleague is struggling with financial difficulties, you may want to direct them to help which is available to them. At Pharmacist Support, we offer Financial Assistance to pharmacists and former pharmacists and their families, students and trainees who are experiencing unforeseen financial hardship.

Find out more about Financial Assistance


Mental health difficulties

Even when you know someone experiences or is experiencing mental health struggles in that moment, it can be difficult to broach the subject. This handy resource provides tips on how to open up a dialogue with your colleague and support them with their healing journey.

Download How to have difficult conversations: talking about mental health

There is a lot of support on our website and for those in our pharmacy family who are struggling with mental health. This includes:

We also offer a free and confidential Counselling and Peer Support service for individuals in our pharmacy family.

Find out more about Counselling and Peer Support 


Physical health problems

Difficulties with physical health can vary and also have various knock on affects such as financial difficulties, mental health challenges and difficulties with working. If your colleague is experiencing physical health problems, they may want to contact our Information and Enquiries service to see what support they can access.

Contact the Information and Enquiries team


Relationship breakdowns

Having a relationship breakdown, no matter the reason, can be very upsetting. In many cases, your colleague many already have a support circle around them to help them through the emotional and mental impact. However, some people may find that counselling can help too, especially to work through the breakdown with someone removed from the situation. At Pharmacist Support, we offer free and confidential counselling to individuals in our pharmacy family.

Find out more about Counselling and Peer Support

Divorce and separation can also have various knock on affects such as financial difficulties. At Pharmacist Support, we offer Financial Assistance to pharmacists and former pharmacists and their families, students and trainees who are experiencing unforeseen financial hardship.

Find out more about Financial Assistance

There are also many other organisations specialising in relationships and family affairs that you could direct your colleague to.


Workplace issues

Coworkers often have close relationships with one another. This can make it easy to support them through workplace issues, such as bullying, burnout and stress, as well as difficult – depending on the situation and parties involved. Depending on the issue, we offer various support and services which you could direct your colleague to. These include:

Support and guidance with various mental health and wellbeing topics

Support and guidance with various workplace and work life topics

A Specialist Advice service in the areas of employment law, benefits and tax credits, and debt.

 

Further support for better workplace relationships

Further support for better workplace relationships

Building positive workplace relationships

This page includes guidance and support on how to build positive relationships in the workplace, with a short self-study module to help you cement learnings. …

Further support for better workplace relationships

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