'Change and adapt quickly, don't keep doing the same thing hoping things will change'
It is important to appreciate that every employee is worrying about their personal situation and what the future will hold, according to Rudy Crous, Corporate Psychologist and CEO of Shortlyster.
For example: Who can look after their children if schools close? Will their job be around? How will they buy food/essentials when there is panic buying?
To support your staff, Crous said this is a time to be truly flexible with work arrangements and provide the means to continue being as effective as possible given the circumstances.
For office-bound jobs, this might mean moving to online video communications so everyone can work from home.
For all the jobs that require physical labour or face to face contact (e.g. service, retail, construction industries), providing clarity on work expectations is essential.
“The clearer the information on what to do and the changes employees are allowed to make, the less confusion in the workplace,” said Crous.
“You can also inform your staff that they can get support from a psychologist if they have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If that doesn’t exist the government provides assistance to all Australians through its Mental Healthcare Plan initiative.”
So how can you keep staff motivated when there is so much uncertainty for the coming weeks?
Crous said that it’s important to accept that there are things you can control and other things you can’t.
“The external environmental factors are not controllable and how they will affect people’s mindset will vary,” added Crous.
“There is global widespread fear and you shouldn’t pretend this doesn’t exist or that your business circumstances are the same.
“Set realistic goals of what is achievable for your business over the next few months, define the delivery, and have processes/policies in place that enable your staff to work as flexibly as possible.”
Giving employees options to help with their personal life will keep them engaged with their work.
“Set-up more virtual environments to keep team meetings flowing and communication open.
Crous said you’ll still need to set clear guidelines with the use of any communication mediums, but always ensure there are ways for people to connect.
“This means allowing people to also just be able to have just social chats and ‘downtime’, as this will help continue with the relationship building and bonding that is essential for any team.”
So if your organisation is affected negatively / performing badly as a result of the pandemic, how can you encourage positivity?
Be honest and open about what is going on, but don’t react to unknowns. Deal with what you have in front of you by setting short term goals, said Crous.
“Change and adapt quickly, don’t keep doing the same thing hoping things will change,” Crous added.
“COVID 19 is going to be around for some time yet and the lagging effects on the economy will be felt for months to come.”
Clearly and consistently communicate to the business any changes in the strategic plans and what opportunities there might be, concluded Crous.