How To Reassure Your Employees In Times of Uncertainty
Right now, the world is experiencing a crisis that is totally unprecedented. We wake up each morning to check the news on our phones only to read of more deaths, more loss and more uncertainty. Each day is totally unpredictable which means that businesses are becoming harder to manage than ever before.
Your employees need leadership. They need guidance, someone to steer the ship through the storm and reassure them that they will emerge intact on the other side. Whilst this experience is shared, that collective feeling doesn’t always transmit with doubts, fears and uncertainties affecting each employee in their own way. Now is the time for you to show up, and keep on showing up as the strong leader that you are.
Transparency is a company value that we see popping up on corporate websites again and again, yet it’s one of the hardest to hone. For an organisation to be truly transparent, it needs leaders who are honest and open in both the good times and the bad.
This means that if times are hard, and if your company’s facing challenges up ahead, you need to let your employees know about it. Scary as opening up and sharing the vulnerabilities of your leadership team may feel, the opposite is always worse. If an employee finds out that they’ve been misled or that some key news has been swept under the carpet, that trust you’ve worked so hard to build is immediately broken.
Transparency shows great strength of character, it shows trust in your employees and, most importantly, it shows that you respect your team enough to be honest with them.
Open the conversation
Now is the time when all of us need communication, conversation and connection. Your employees don’t need you to forward on your COVID-19 action plan in an email and leave it at that. They need dialogue.
Ask your employees how they are, involve them in discussions and invite them to submit suggestions of their own. You might just find that it’s your employees who have the ideas needed to guide your organisation through this storm.
Keep checking in
The chances are that, like much of the world, your company is working remotely right now. Whilst your team might be spread across cities, countries or even continents, that doesn’t give any cause for those personal connections to fade.
Make the time to check in and see how your colleagues are holding up. Show your face on video calls, share some of your own experiences and send company updates more often than usual – that feeling of human to human connection has never been so important as it is right now.
We’re all experiencing this for the first time, and some of us are being hit harder than others. Your employees might be experiencing losses of their own or struggling to homeschool their children whilst still working full-time. It’s more than likely that some concessions will need to be made – this is not business as usual.
Account for those concessions in your planning and in your management by allowing additional time for projects and flexible hours if that’s something that suits your working structure. If you have a HR team on staff, ask them to sign-post local resources and any additional tools that may help to reassure your employees during these uncertain times.
Discuss life ‘afterwards’
Many employees will be feeling nervous about returning to the office once lockdown restrictions ease. Be sure to take these concerns into consideration when assembling your action plans.
It might be beneficial to include options such as extended remote working or staggered returns until the world is a little more certain again and fears have eased off.
Show that you believe in them
When experiencing a time of uncertainty or fear, even the most confident and self-assured of employees can come to doubt themselves. If your employees usually find their confidence through projects with clients and coworkers, they’ll be experiencing a significant dent in their self-esteem as a result of isolation.
Remind your employees why you hired them and why you need them. Let them know that they are valued and that they’re doing a good job. Not only will this bring a much needed confidence boost but it will also show them that, should the worst happen, you will fight for them and their jobs.
As you work to lead your employees through this crisis, remember to lead yourself too. Take care of yourself and give yourself the time you need. Support is available should you need it. After all, nobody can pour from an empty cup.