Crying at work is a topic that has come up a lot recently. Workplaces are changing and employees want to feel like they can behave in a “genuine” fashion when interacting with coworkers and customers. As you can imagine, there are varying schools of thought about whether crying is appropriate for the workplace and how to handle it. When dealing with subjective topics like this, I like to break them down into their most basic pieces, focusing on the actual problem, not the feelings I have around them, and tying the behaviors back to the employee policy manual. In many cases of “Corporate Crying”, I see lack of productivity and dissatisfied clients as two major areas of concern. Coworkers may view the emotional displays as disruptive as someone shouting curse words in a meeting or throwing a book against the office wall. However, the key to dealing with crying is taking the time to consider WHY the employee is reacting in the way that they are; especially if the tear-filled episodes are common place, and not necessarily how others are reacting to it.
Is crying at work a bad thing?
Crying is a biological function that we have little control over. While it can be perceived as a negative in the workplace, crying in and of itself is not inappropriate. Focus should not be on the crying but the behavior around the crying. What is triggering the crying? Is it a symptom of a bigger problem? Overall, crying in the workplace is not a negative thing. People cry for all kinds of reasons, good and bad. Employees should be able to express themselves in ways that feel right for them, including crying. That being said, if the behavior is interfering with the work that needs to be done, have a discussion with the employee and develop a plan for how to handle the situation when it arises. For instance, if the employee begins to feel as though they need to cry, reassure them it is perfectly ok to excuse themselves and return when they have regained their composure.
How does HR help your business?
Maintaining open and supportive lines of communication with your employees will help you maintain a good understanding of how they are doing and where they need support. It will build trust and loyalty and will to help increase engagement which is ultimately what you want to sustain a thriving business.