Posted on Jun 4, 2020

As the engines of the economy restart in phases, many business leaders are grappling with concerns about the welfare and safety of their employees and customers. It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused stress and wreaked havoc on many people’s mental health. Social isolation, school closures, unemployment, and other disruptions have increased levels of stress and anxiety for many.

The stress people are feeling is not limited to when they’re off the clock. In many cases, employees face a host of unknowns. Essential employees on the frontlines may worry about spreading the virus to family members. Those working from home have had to adjust to new ways of working and new ways of communicating. And those returning to work are likely to find a number of changes in their environment and in the ways they conduct business and interact with their colleagues and customers.

It’s important for managers and leaders to understand how these stresses impact employees as they navigate the ‘new normal.’ Some employees will be ready to forge ahead while others remain cautious. Anticipate some resistance to changes in business practices.

Other key points for managers and leaders to consider:

  • Develop a COVID-19 action plan for your internal staff, external customers, and clients that addresses new protocols, safety procedures, and social distancing. This plan will likely need to be reviewed and tweaked on a regular basis.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Let employees know your door is open for them to ask questions or reach out for help with their work. If possible, hold individual meetings with employees to ask how they’re doing. Don’t over-rely on email.
  • Hold regular department and team meetings, whether in person or virtually, to keep employees apprised of the projects that everyone is working on.
  • When you do meet virtually, meeting by video is better than by phone.   Seeing people’s faces and facial expressions breaks up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home and cuts down on miscommunication.
  • As new information comes in from the state, as well as from customers and suppliers, keep everyone informed. Clear and concise information prevents the rumor mill.

It’s important to stay calm and be clear. Employees look to you to model a sense of resilience and positivity. Effective leaders will need to balance the situation at hand and communicate hope and vision to the team. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended as authoritative guidance, legal advice, or assurance of compliance with state and federal regulations.

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