In a recently published report, the IMF said that the global economy is expected to shrink by 3% – the steepest decline since the Great Depression nearly a century ago. Although they tempered this by suggesting a partial rebound next year, the forecast is still characterized by “extreme uncertainty.”
Under a best-case scenario, the world is predicted to lose an output of $9 trillion in two years – greater than the combined GDP of Japan and Germany.
Unfortunately, this means sizable layoffs in the public and private sector alike. Always a difficult decision to convey, maintaining employee morale for those retained is absolutely critical.
Here are some helpful tips that can be deployed effectively by organizations to alleviate employee concerns during this COVID-19 enforced lockdown:
Don’t Hesitate, Communicate
Ambiguity is often directly tied to anxiety. The less employees know about their own future or the organization, the more likely they are to worry.
Research shows that people feel less stressed about the future – even if it is bad – if they are properly informed. Two-way communication is key.
Assist in Employee Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy is enormously effective in an employee’s ability to overcome challenges without burning out. Self-efficacy shares a direct relationship with the ability to take on additional workplace responsibility.
Building self-efficacy is comparable to strength training – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
More Celebrate, Less Hate
Every employee likes to feel appreciated and recognized for their work. The dopamine that floods one’s brain is like an antidote to fear.
During economic downturns, it is all too frequent for employees to adopt a ‘doom and gloom’ mindset. Tackle this by seeking out success stories – both large and small alike – and celebrating them regularly.
Numerous studies have proven that employees with strong relationships work better together. They handle traumatic situations better, fall sick less frequently, and even recover from debilitating illness rapidly.
Foster robust employer-employee relations by encouraging courtesy, respect, and teamwork. Fight the tendency for the company to become a ‘lean, mean profit machine’.
Reduce Unnecessary Stress
During uncertain times, employees have enough on their plates to begin with. Making them struggle with lengthy company policy and bureaucratic hurdles wastes time and energy.
Smart employers actively work at reducing this. While completely eliminating bureaucracy is impossible, making it pain-free and seamless is the ultimate target.
Many organizations tend to give feedback far less importance than it deserves. Candid employee feedback allows managers to gain an insider’s perspective on team dynamics and determine pain points precisely.
Address employee concerns in clear terms and clearly layout future policy. Be direct and try not to skirt around the bush as the latter could make employees doubt organizational sincerity.
Employees are not mindless machines working for a corporate mothership. They are emotionally and mentally hit by material blows to the company.
Employee well-being must be the foremost priority and acknowledging organizational troubles separates leaders from the followers.
Schedule regular meetings (online or face-to-face) as this enables employees to quickly bounce back from crises.
To summarize, the workforce actively looks at the management, to captain the ship out of troubled waters. Any negative press due to both internal and external factors can spread like COVID-19 and wreak havoc on employee morale. Nipping the virus at its source will foster trust, raise productivity, and make the company stronger than ever before.