In times of crisis, employees turn to leaders for compassion and guidance, and leaders need to be prepared to facilitate crisis management and recovery.
While no business leader will have every answer during every crisis, employers and managers can better support their team members when issues arise by exploring tips to better support employees through various types of emergencies. And by evaluating ways to be more effective leaders at critical times, employers and managers can better support their team members when problems arise are inevitable. But the way employers and managers choose to respond to employee emergencies is about developing strong leaders. Use these tips to set up your business and employees for the best chance of surviving a crisis:
1. Establish a transparent chain of command.
Companies must have an established and accessible hierarchy of leadership and channels of communication. Employees need to know who oversees different crisis management areas and who to contact for immediate or long-term support, resources, and services. If the chain of command is to be adjusted to accommodate a specific crisis, leaders must inform staff of any regular order changes.
2. Be visible and accessible to employees.
Employees need to see and hear those responsible during a crisis. Leaders cannot withdraw. They must be pillars of trust and confidence and empathy and support; they need to bridge the gap between staff, departments, internal and external resources, and publish regular updates that are openly communicated when employees in crisis desperately need answers and solutions.
3. Availability of Resources
Leaders must build and monitor a resource bank that can be used during a crisis. Resources must be monitored and modified as suppliers, funds, company policies, personnel, and partnerships change. In any case, leaders and their managers need to know what crisis tools and services can be offered to employees, under what parameters such resources will be provided, and whether any of them require prior approval in emergencies.
4. Before suggesting specific forms of help.
Crises are not only traumatic but can also be life-changing. In their midst, sometimes, an employee’s primary need is to listen to their pain and concerns. Before making suggestions about specific forms of assistance, leaders should have employees conduct conversations and tell their employers and managers what will benefit them the most. As well-intentioned as it may seem at first glance, executives suggesting time off, for example, could ultimately be more detrimental to employee well-being. They may feel rejected or unwanted when what they want most is being surrounded by familiar relationships with coworkers they trust.
5. Ask the right questions.
In addition to listening, leaders also need to ask the right questions to ensure that an employee in crisis can get the best available support and resources. Consider the following questions as part of a crisis management plan to help workers in need:
How can we help you right now?
Do you have immediate or urgent needs that have not been met?
What can we offer that would be helpful for your continued support?
Have you received adequate updates, or would you find additional information helpful? If so, what questions or comments do you have?
6. Be prepared to reduce the workload of employees.
Now is the time to be pragmatic about what the struggling employee can accomplish. Depending on the emergency circumstances, an employer or manager must be willing to set realistic intermediate productivity goals, adjust deadlines, and delegate employee tasks to others as needed.
7. Don’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to all crisis management.
When a generalized crisis occurs within an organization or when several employees are affected by a disaster, some aspects of the emergency response (for example, security checks, paid time off, replacement technology provided by the employer or equipment allowance, etc.) can be delivered universally. However, employers and executives should be prepared, even in the event of a company-wide crisis, to implement employee-specific responses that meet each employee’s individual needs and lifestyle.
While leaders must do all they can to support and guide employees in crisis times, no leader is perfect. However, leaders can improve their performance in an emergency by focusing on crisis management, which puts an order, competence, and employee well-being at the heart of all actions and responses.
With so many variables in play, no employee crisis will ever be the same. Life is dynamic, but the objective of supporting employees in situations must remain constant in the minds and management plans of business leaders. Asking the right questions, applying effective crisis management strategies, and deploying the best crisis resources, tools, and services an organization can provide, employees are reassured under challenging times and become proud to be employers.