During unprecedented times of crisis, there’s no leadership playbook to follow. New definitions of the workday, combined with endless streams of unnerving news can be the cause of anxiety and distraction among staff. As an organization with employees directly affected by these uncertain times, the anchor for your workforce is strong communication.
The most important factors of good employee communication during a time of crisis rely on a few key foundational elements.
1) Establish psychological safety
Everyone needs to know that they will be taken care of and are supported. Without this basic pillar, employees can’t perform in their roles. Establishing the bedrock of safety is paramount, where executives, and management all need to actively listen with empathy, allowing all organizational members to be heard if they have concerns or feedback. Being supportive allows people to feel secure, safeguarding them to progress to the other subsequent stages.
2) Communicate with structure and clarity
Crises by very nature can cause panic and uncertainty. This can be counteracted with a communication approach that is clear and concise. Giving people direction where and how they should proceed has been the hallmark of many health and government organizations. There can be no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation, so being direct is of utmost importance.
3) Reinforce meaning
As the world starts to abide by the principles of social distancing and self-isolation to curb the impact, some organizations are required to maintain operations and are critical to supporting communities and society. Continually reinforcing the purpose they are serving can bring a great deal of purpose and individual fulfillment.
4) Highlight and celebrate the impact
Performing during uncertain times is stressful and taxing. Organizations should sincerely take the time to highlight and recognize the unsung heroes and contributors. The ability to showcase these unique moments will have a lasting positive for employees within it. For an organization, having a digital and/or physical community of peers that are seeing and feeling the impacts in near-real-time provides an incredible bonding experience, one that will endure as businesses rebuild.