For an organization, it is extremely important to make sure that clients and stakeholders are satisfied so that the company can keep growing and earning better revenue. Specially in crisis situations, like COVID-19, it becomes extremely crucial to offer the best service so that clients can be retained. But, is that possible without the support of your employees? Probably not. As essential as it is to keep your company strong and healthy, it is equally essential to invest time and effort in ensuring that your employees are happy and content. The health and growth of an organization is directly proportional to the overall well-being of its employees. When you put your people first, they proactively take care of the company and its clients and stakeholders.
Yes, we are in a difficult and unprecedented situation. Companies are facing operational challenges and revenue crunch. On the other hand, employees are losing jobs, encountering challenges pertaining to remote working, feeling stressed out because jobs can be at risk, and trying to make sure that their families are safe and healthy. In such a situation, employees are an organisation’s biggest asset and you must put your employees first.
Be a leader first, a manager next
In a crisis situation or in difficult times, people managers have to become the best versions of themselves. Employees will have many questions, often repetitive ones; but as a manager, you have to answer affirmatively, enthusiastically and empathetically. Undoubtedly, employees should put their best foot forward, and be proactive and productive. But it would also be up to you, the manager, to harness the potential in each and every team member, provide them with opportunities to learn and grow, support them in their crises, create a people first culture, and lead from the front.
A recent survey by Qualtrics states, “While leaders are rightly focused on the physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s another global challenge emerging: mental health.” Out of 2000 employees who participated in the survey, 41.6% of respondents said that their mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak and 45.9% responded that their company has not proactively shared information about available mental health resources.
Mental well-being can get affected in a number of ways – interrelated or otherwise. Emotional exhaustion, feeling increasingly sad, increased irritability, insomnia, bouts of anger, feeling increasingly guilt – all of these can affect the mental well-being of your employees. In a time when people are restricted to their homes and feeling socially isolated, it is important to communicate more frequently and keep all communication channels open and accessible.
Communication is the key
COVID-19 has put management in the spotlight. Tough trade-offs, tough decisions and complex communication – leaders and people managers have never been in a tougher spot. Given the complexity of the situation and the uncertainty employees are experiencing, crisis communication is extremely critical. Talk to your people. Trust and honesty have never been more important. Be transparent about the situation – it’s alright to show vulnerability. In a crisis, people may not be in the best frame of mind to absorb all information at once. So, you must keep repeating. As the global economic crisis is becoming increasingly apparent, help your employees stay positive and talk to them about all the steps the organisation is taking to support everyone.
How your employees might be feeling and what you should communicate*
Confused and anxious – Facts, not speculation | Clear instructions about how to protect their safety
Uneasy and worn down – Clarity on long term plans | Positive stories | Chances to connect
Ready for change – A new, future forward vision
A sense of loss – A chance and the space to come to terms with their grief
Given the major shift towards remote working or working from home, help your people understand what you expect from them. Without clear expectations, your team might end up feeling unsure and confused, and might even feel the need to look for other jobs. Communication from company leadership is very important – it bolsters the unified spirit of an organisation and also helps employees keep worries and uncertainties at bay.
We can call a workplace happy and positive when its employees are happy. And employees will be happy when management supports them, appreciates them for tasks well done, takes care of their mental well-being, and assists them with wellness programs that can help. Putting people first is not difficult; it just requires a company culture that values its people and respects their contributions.
*Source: McKinsey & Company