Just yesterday, 57-year-old Cairns nurse Sue Ellen Kovack was hospitalised with suspected Ebola symptoms, having just returned from working with Ebola victims in Sierra Leone.
While these serious threats were assessed, hospital staff had to continue working ‘business as usual’. Consequently, it was up to their employers to ensure that they felt safe and valued, said Kate Boorer, employee engagement and performance specialist at Employerbility.
“It’s really about communication and safety, and being as transparent and open as possible, which is where a lot of organisations can go wrong,” she explained.
“Ultimately you need to create trust, as you want your employees to trust that you’re telling the truth. When we’re informed, we feel like we have more control.”
During dire crises, organisations must work to create as much certainty as possible, Boorer advised – even if that is simply the certainly of saying, “We don’t have further information right now, but we’ll tell you as soon as we do.”
To achieve this, employers should check in regularly with staff, providing at a minimum daily updates.
Organisations should also create a space to have a conversation “that will happen at water coolers anyway”, Boorer said.
“No news is news: if you don’t keep your staff abreast, human nature is that they’ll make it up. By creating an open, transparent space to answer questions, you’re actively leading the conversation, rather than letting the office rumour mill take over,” she said.
“There’s an opportunity with situations like an Ebola scare to really develop an inclusive culture, by saying ‘How are we
going to manage this?’ rather than creating a ‘you verse us’ dynamic,” Boorer added.
You might also like:
Workers with burqas - what you need to know
Are single sex offices happier?
Facing the future: a new world of work
Last month, a hospital on the Gold Coast was the subject of a bomb threat and an Ebola scare in the same week.