Whether you’re in a leadership position or in Human Resources, you’re likely being faced with employee questions that reveal the fear and anxiety your employees are experiencing in today’s uncertain economy. Of course, this is on top of your own emotions that you’re having to manage.
These are difficult times for everyone.
What can you do in your leadership position to reassure employees by being transparent?
Let’s face it. The uncertainty of the current situation has left employees with plenty to worry about. They wonder if your organization will be able to make it through these tough times and for how long. They worry about their security of their family if they lose their job. Those who work in essential services worry about bringing the coronavirus home to their families.
The worries are justified. This is a complex situation with no road map to follow to guarantee what will and will not work.
Like you, I’ve seen many messages encouraging people to not “give in” to their fear of the coronavirus.
I’ve seen a lot of messages telling people not to worry because everything will be okay.
But the reality of the situation is that people are worried. They are afraid.
Frankly, given the current situation, raising concerns about the future most certainly does not make one irrational. It makes them human.
We can’t sweep these concerns under the rug by telling people not to be scared or promising that things will be fine.
It simply doesn’t work.
Whether verbal or implied, messages that people should not be worried will do nothing to reassure your employees. It will make them trust you even less. Which will simply make them worry more.
When we shut down others’ emotions, we essentially tell them to push their feelings away. But those feelings will pop up at a later time. Bigger and stronger.
What you can do instead is to address your employees’ concerns with your full humanity?
Be transparent with your employees. Be honest about the challenges the company is facing. Tell them that you are also concerned. Respond to their concerns with genuine answers.
And then reassure them that no matter what happens, you will continue to do everything you can to keep things moving in the right direction.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have should get out the financials and share every single concern that the company is facing.
But it does mean that you should address the concern the employee has raised with a specific answer.
Trust me, if you don’t, they will just continue making up scenarios in their head that continue to feed their fear.
Because a lack of information is anxiety-provoking in and of itself.
No one wants to be told not to worry when they are worrying. It isn’t reassuring and the end result will be that people will not trust you.
If you continue to brush away concerns by telling people not to worry, you’ll continue to break the trust that your employees have in you as a leader.
Instead of telling them “don’t worry, everything will be fine” try “The uncertainty we’re facing is difficult to navigate. Know that our employees are incredibly valuable to us and that we’ll do everything we can to get through this together.”
Of course, the specifics of your reply will depend on the situation of your company. But at the heart of it, employees simply want their concerns acknowledged and addressed.
And your role as a leader or HR professional is to do so.
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