In these uncertain times, we are all craving a sense of security. Non-desk employees were definitely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. They have been intensely seeking a sense of stability in their personal and professional lives while awaiting more certain post-pandemic times. Leadership plays an important role in providing peace of mind to these employees. Studies show that during times of crisis, we look to our leaders to guide us and maintain strong communication, which ultimately reduces our anxiety.
Therefore, it is crucial (now more than ever) to communicate with transparency and to do it often. Help your employees by answering their many important questions. You should have the voice of reason and security. Due to the rapid changes and reactions to the spread of Coronavirus, your communication should be at a minimum once a week. Be there for your employees, keep their morale high, and provide them solace in these distressing times.
Here are the 4 questions your employees need answered from your side.
1. What is the short-term and long-term plan?
The news came by surprise, and we are still reacting to it as the state of affairs evolves. However, being in a leadership position, take a moment to set up a plan of action that your company can follow in the short-term and long-term.
Business might be on hold for the next few weeks, but this will impact our daily operations much further down the line. Now is the time to discuss what the future could look like for your business, and how it is being impacted by the crisis.
Once you have a greater idea of what short-term and long-term plans look like, communicate that to your employees as quickly as possible. Let them know everything is contingent on the development of the virus but emphasize that you have a plan to keep business running as normal as possible.
2. What can I do to stay safe?
Every company has their own precautions to take depending on its industry. Perhaps you are working in retail, where more staff is needed to support daily operations of supermarkets. Maybe you’re a manager at a restaurant with currently very few employees. Both of these situations will have different sets of safety rules to follow.
It is up to you to explicitly state how your employees should behave on the job and in their personal lives in order to keep the workplace, community and themselves safe. This information should be communicated as quickly as possible and kept in sync with governmental regulations.
For those employees that have much more general questions about how the virus may affect them and their loved ones, advise them to call emergency lines. For example, the reach the Red Cross in Denmark at +45 35 28 96 60 (phone lines are open from 9am to 9pm seven days a week).
3. Will I keep my job / will it change?
This may be a hard subject at the moment, but your duty is to bring in transparency and provide a feeling of safety to your employees. Address all that you can with truth. It is ok to say you may have to take measures to cut down costs. If you are certain your employees will keep their job, express that. If you believe you may have to take let go of some people, then be upfront and express that as well.
Providing answers to how you will keep your employees’ and their family’s well-being a priority in your decisions is the most important thing. They are seeking certainty and safety, so do your best to deliver that through open communication. If someone is significantly concerned, have a one-on-one conversation with them. Many may be frightened by the situation, because our jobs feel like a large identifying piece of character. Help them ease their worry, be as open as possible.
4. Where can I stay up to date on our company’s Coronavirus updates?
There are many places your employees are obtaining news about the development of COVID-19. However, it is important to acknowledge that not all reports and articles are accurate, especially online. It’s not always easy to tell the truth from the hoax, and to remain calm. You hold the power to direct your employees to outlets that you know are credible.
There is a lot of fear spreading around the media, communities, workplaces…. As a leader, it is vital to bring hope. It is a time to show that empathy can trump fear. Make sure to communicate often and consistently with your employees. Let them know that you will work together to find solutions and adapt to the circumstances together.
Take care of yourself, remember to wash your hands, and look forward to brighter days. We will make it through this.
For more information about how to communicate with your teams in times of crisis, check out our webinar on Effective Crisis Communication.