The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. This is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. Business owners have a lot on their plate right now with caring for themselves and their families while also trying to keep their business afloat. Business owners also have their employees looking to them for guidance, which is also no easy task. Today, we wanted to provide a bit of guidance for supporting employees. Of course, we don’t have all of the answers (I don’t think anyone does right now), but this can serve as a starting point to frame your approach.
Be calm (or at least look it)
This is an out of control situation, but if you appear calm to your employees it will give them a sense of comfort and dispel panic. Even if you are upset or if you have to deliver some bad news, remaining calm will help lessen the blow to your employees. If you are addressing your employees, don’t be afraid to pause and take a breath. If you are sending them an email or message, read it over a few times and consider your tone before pressing send.
You, of course, want to be positive right now, but be careful not to be too positive. Your employees will quickly become confused and upset if you are presenting one happy message while ignoring problems that are occurring. Your employees need open and honest information right now.
There is no roadmap for this type of situation, so the best thing you can do is trust your gut. All of your experience as a leader has prepared you for this moment even if this situation is new. Now is the time to trust in your choices and believe in your decisions. Employees are seeking direction and will appreciate a clear decision-maker.
Great leaders accept and deal with current circumstances, while also providing hope and inspiration. This can be implemented through your communication with your employees; be honest, but also look for silver linings. You want to keep your employees motivated and working toward a better future rather than feeling defeated.
Focus on the future
If work is light right now, don’t be afraid to encourage employees to work on materials that will be used in the future when your operations resume to some semblance of normal. This can provide hope and you’ll be even more organized and prepared in the future.
This is an unprecedented situation that is constantly evolving. Keep your employees in the loop about new information as you have it. While nobody likes bad news, it is better to hear it than to be left with uncertainty and speculation. Additionally, if you have switched from working in-person to remotely information is likely to slip through the cracks without careful communication. This is the time to prioritize keeping in contact. Finally, people are very isolated right now, and keeping connected as a company can help to lessen this.
Everyone has their own set of circumstances that may make it more difficult to work. Therefore, a bit of flexibility and understanding can go a long way. For example, some parents have suddenly become full-time teachers. Many people are also grieving lost loved ones right now. If you can be more lenient with schedules and deadlines, without sacrificing outputs, now is the time to do so.
There are a lot of resources available right now, whether it be webinars about working remotely or programs for people experiencing food insecurity. However, it can be difficult to track down and manage all of these opportunities. Putting together a resources guide, or even just sharing things as you hear about them, can be a great way to connect your employees to the services they need.
Show that you care
In a situation like this, compassion goes a very long way. No matter what your company may need to do to weather this crisis, keeping compassion at the forefront can have a major impact on your employees. Everyone is feeling scared, lonely, and anxious, and showing a little bit of care can help reduce these negative feelings.
We hope these tips help you support your employees through this difficult time. Do you have your own tip? Are you a business owner taking a unique approach to this crisis? Let us know on Twitter, @conserisapp, to be featured in a future post.
Stay safe and healthy!