Leaders need to stay connected with employees in times of crisis

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are experiencing unimaginable disruptions, to the point where some are worried about their very survival. No one is immune and employees are all too aware and feeling the uncertainty on a daily basis. At this time they need strong, decisive and compassionate leadership to help them stay informed and updated, feel like they’re being seen and heard, and keep focused and on track.

Keep your staff informed and updated

It is really important that employees feel connected.  Business leaders should therefore communicate candidly and frequently not only to make sure they have the appropriate tools and guidance required to work from home, but to keep their staff updated on the current state of the business. In difficult times, employees need to know the company’s actual status as soon as is reasonably possible. If you’re not giving your employees regular updates, they’ll make up what they don’t know to fill the information vacuum. Don’t worry about overproducing or editing what you say; the most important thing is to speak and write in an authentic voice — and do it promptly.

When talking with staff that have been furloughed, keep in mind that they may be nervous and insecure about their future. Be the voice of reassurance and remind them that the decision was not due to individual performance and that it’s a temporary measure, designed to ensure that their job is secured for them once the lockdown has passed.  You may want to encourage continued learning and development whilst they’re not working and there are plenty of sites and tools to help with this. The government has recently launched a new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home. Courses are free and available on the gov.uk website

Make sure they feel seen and heard

When communicating with your staff, tone is an essential differentiator. Your employees are human, so speak to them like they’re human. While there’s no need to sugar coat, you do need to remember that you’re communicating with your workforce; people who are making the future viability of your company a top priority in their lives.

Communicating with your staff regularly will help you inspire better performance, trust and resilience.  This not only applies to immediate team leaders, but members of the board and senior management also. Let your workforce know that you see them and care about them. Email, phone or use one of a number of video apps; all are effective, just make it regular and relevant.

Keep focused and on track

Maintain a focus on what’s most important: first, the health of your employees and their families, and second, the current state of the business. Be clear that what you know is changing rapidly and that your actions will change accordingly.  Scheduling regular catch ups which incorporate the government’s latest updates and how it affects the business and your employees may be one way to make them feel more informed and secure and less likely to fill in any blanks themselves.

Your employees still need to feel accountable and busy so will want clarity from you around the most critical work to be done right now. They need to know what’s urgent and what can wait. They will be able to focus more clearly if they see that you are their No. 1 advocate for the resources they need, that you trust them to get the work done and that you will support them when they need to take care of things outside of work.

Clear communication is key. Now more than ever, leaders need to stay in touch and pay extra attention to your most important people – your workforce who are looking for you to guide them.

Kingsgate are here to support candidates, businesses and services

As the Kingsgate Group supply key workers, we are still working daily to support businesses throughout this crisis. Even if you’re not looking to hire straight away, give us a call to discuss your plans for the future. We have seen a huge increase in talented candidates and fantastic graduates contacting us to secure their next role. Our team can look at sourcing top talent, ahead of your competitors, for when you’re ready to hire again.

You can contact us via our website, drop us an email, or give us a call on 020 8549 7212.

Source: MIT Sloan