Three Steps to Support your Employees During Global Crisis (and Beyond)
How to support employees (and colleagues, friends, family, etc.) during global crisis and difficult times.
Organizational leaders and managers: now, more than ever, is a time to lean into the challenges associated with your employees’ emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
The world is shaking, burning, blowing away, flooding; racism, sexism, discrimination based on religion, sexual preference, gender identity and more are at the forefront of global conversations. We are in a time of great uncertainty and unpredictability, and as such, it shouldn’t be surprising that your employees are on-edge, anxious, emotional – and maybe not quite as productive as a result. Despite research that shows the importance of holistic wellbeing in the workplace and its role in increasing productivity, innovation, creativity, employee fulfillment, etc., many corporate cultures embrace the idea (this looks like: happy hours, mobility programs, casual dress, etc.), but do not embody it as an organizational value (this looks like: prioritizing the hiring of emotionally intelligent managers and leadership who understand the importance of talent management, offering coaching to high-potential employees at all organizational levels, implementing integrative strategies for change management, etc.).
How can you better support your employees during this global crisis? Here are a few tips:
1) Look, listen, check in. Is anyone on your team exhibiting behavior out of the ordinary, from the subtle to the obvious? If so, chances are this person is going through something emotionally taxing, something that she/he/they can’t easily compartmentalize. Don’t make assumptions. Just ask what’s going on. If the behavior is compromising production, say so without attacking. Approach the person from a place of compassion. You don’t need to fill the role of a friend, but kindness goes a long way. Falling behind certainly isn’t acceptable; see how you can support the employee. Present it as a team effort. Remember, this person is most likely already feeling overwhelmed.
2) Be real, be present. No one can pretend these global events aren’t happening. Bring them up in the context of the stress this can bring to the workplace. Your job isn’t to fix the problems of the world; simply offer an open door and a willingness to be there for and work with your employees. This is about fulfillment, not happiness. You may be used to creating solutions, but this is an opportunity to say, “I don’t have answers, team. But I am here to listen and think creatively through whatever comes up for you.”
3) Lean into feelings and emotions. Lean in hard; don’t be afraid of crying, shouting or nervous laughter. While there is a spectrum of professional appropriateness for emotional expression (e.g., throwing something out of frustration or acting in a way that could harm other employees would be cause for alarm, possible termination of employment and perhaps a sign of a larger problem), it’s critical to acknowledge that humans are emotional creatures. We don’t stop having feelings when we come to work. When an employee comes to you and things get emotional, above all, be compassionate and curious. You are allowed to exhibit emotion as well. Acknowledge vulnerability, courage and your own observations and feelings. Let your employee know you’re walking right beside him/her/them, and you’ll still be right there, even if you disagree or feel differently.
Remember, you aren’t leading or managing in a vacuum; there are other people within your organization who can – and should – support your efforts to enhance holistic wellbeing. Tap those resources, and know where you should direct employees who need more support than you’re able to offer.
While I’ve introduced these three tips for supporting your employees within the context of our state of global crisis, they are immensely useful for creating and enhancing an organizational culture that consistently embodies the value of holistic wellbeing. If human capital is of paramount importance to your organization’s bottom line, then living and operating according to this value is critical.
If your organization is interested in furthering its commitment to enhancing employees’ holistic wellbeing through values-based operations, let’s connect. Email me at email@example.com, and visit my website for more information.
First published on LinkedIn on September 9, 2017