Helping your team feel safe in times of crisis

Note: The present article is an overview of how managers can alleviate increased anxiety in times of crisis and is based on current news on the COVID-19. Employers should apply all necessary policies as published by official bodies.

During the past month, news on the spread of COVID-19 have influenced how people react to what was one considered everyday life. Apart from the COVID-19 epidemic, there is a spread in feelings of uncertainty and anxiety experienced by both managers and their employees. Employers are not only bound by their legal obligation in the workplace. Addressing uncertainty to your team in the face of an epidemic is a great challenge that needs to be met. Here are a few suggestions on how to communicate issues of uncertainty to your team in times of crisis:

Acknowledge your employees’ worries

In January the CDC announced that the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and specifically between people who are in close contact with another or through respiratory droplets. The best way to help a person calm down is to address in a direct manner how they feel or what they think on the topic. Encourage your employees to express their concerns on how they feel about participating in group meetings or going on to a business trip.

Communication

In addition to the COVID-19 spread, there is also a spread in misinformation. In times of crisis, there is a risk in overreaction, and this is why managers need to be adequately informed by official sources on the best course of action. Make sure to communicate to your team any news on current policies, legal obligations and steps you are willing to employ so as to balance corporate and individual needs. Regular and proactive communication exhibits interest and builds a corporate morale of open – communication.

Be specific

Inform your employees on measures regarding safety you are willing in order to balance worries and work tasks. Encourage your employees to seek medical advice immediately after they have experienced any type of symptoms and support their decision to work remotely for a specific time period, if needed. If your employees express their concern about a business travel, you may consider alternatives (postpone the trip, negotiate a different location). In addition to that, you may provide your employees with statistics, policies and any other information related to the specific location. On top of all, make sure that you react to your employees’ concerns with genuine interest, positive reassurance and measures to promote physical health.

Sophia Vassiliades, M.A. Clininal Psychologist/Counselor.