My question is similar to this: Should I tell my manager that I'm having personal issues?

I'd like some advice based on my situation.

I'm a younger engineer. I was hired straight out of college and have been with the company for about 18 months. I'd say that I'm an extremely productive employee - to where I get a lot of praises from my manager and coworkers.

Three months ago, my dad became terminal and he's currently at the end of his life. I was/ am devastated. I told my manager what's going on and without thinking twice, he allowed me to work from home until things conclude. After a few weeks of being at home, my girlfriend of nearly four years broke up with me. I'm ashamed to admit this, but the breakup is affecting me more than what's going on with my dad. And the combination of both has spread me very thin emotionally and psychologically.

I set the bar high for myself and was very efficient and quick with my work. As of late, I can feel my productivity going down. I'm extremely depressed and find it hard to focus.

Should I tell my boss about the break up? I understand it's petty, and I've been trying to push forward as best as I can. But my mental state isn't improving.

EDIT - By working at home, I mean that I'm with my parents at their home.

  • 1
    "Where should I get help?" is maybe a more productive question than "Should I tell my boss?". Alas, such a question is off-topic here. Talk to some people you trust.
    – user8036
    Nov 30, 2015 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


I'm very sorry about your father, and I also understand about how breaking up with your girlfriend has affected you.

Unfortunately however, the breakup will not stand up as a good excuse for lack of productivity. I think the other question answers your own quite well on that account - I would definitely not mention it to your boss.

If you find that you simply can't deal with work at the moment, simply tell your boss that you're finding it increasingly difficult to focus, and that you need actual time off for a little while. Hopefully he will understand, and the company will accommodate you. Keep in mind, however, that they can only do so much before they decide that they need someone to just get the work done.

If things don't go quite the way you'd like, please remember one thing: this is only a job. You are going to have many more of those over the years. If you are away from your family during this difficult time you may regret it later.

Good luck, and all the best to you.


Terrible situation to be in, but from your bosses point of view they have already bent over backwards to accommodate you. I would meet them halfway and deal with any other personal issues without getting them involved focusing instead on my work.

It's easy when the chips are down to let yourself get overwhelmed and push your troubles onto others, to some extent this is a good thing as it spreads the load, but one measure of a strong character is not letting this happen. And also bear in mind others around you, it's not good if your father is drawn in to your problems either. He may well feel partially or wholly responsible for your work problems. And your mother probably doesn't need any extra worries right now either.

I hope I don't come across as callous, because I'm not, but this is one of those points in life when you need to man up and be a support for others not an additional worry.


My view on this is that unless you expect the lowered productivity from the breakup to last longer than the issue with your father (which would include some time after his death as well), I would not bring it up. They know your father is dying, they will attribute any productivity loss to that.

While I realize that breaking up with a girlfriend is a negative event and it is painful, it should not be affecting productivity as much as you describe and likely is because it is the last straw after a series of personal shocks.

But most managers are not going to be terribly sympathetic to it. In terms of seriousness of the personal issue to management, it comes well below: being diagnosed with a serious illness, death of a child. death of a spouse, death of another family member, serious illness of a family member, and to a lesser extent, divorce. If you were not under the stress of the family illness, few employers would expect a break up to affect productivity for longer than 1-2 days, at most a week.

In all my years in the workforce, I have never seen anyone who took longer than a couple of days to get to the point where it was not affecting their work after a breakup. And probably more than 90% of the people I have worked with who went through break ups and divorces never had a noticeable impact on work productivity at all. If you are taking longer than that you need to get some help to learn how to compartmentalize.

However, if the added stress means that you are more negatively impacted in terms of productivity, you might want to consider telling your boss that the stress is starting to affect you enough that you need a few days off. Taking a few days off may be all you need to regain your center and be able to work effectively. You might also consider if you need to have some sort of counseling, these are all difficult things to go through, you need some tools to help you get through them without a productivity loss.

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