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Supporting employees in uncertain times

managing stress people talk in a circle

We are living through times of uncertainty at the moment, both politically and, in some parts of our industry, economically too. Whatever the reasons, a feeling of uncertainty is unpleasant and worrying for anyone experiencing it. Employees worried about their future are likely to be stressed, which will affect their overall wellbeing and their ability to stay focused and productive at work.

So how can you help your employees cope during periods of uncertainty? Here are some of my thoughts…

  1. Take care of you
    They say that you have to be OK in yourself before you can be OK for others. So, make sure you take care of yourself. Try to distance yourself from your emotions by first labelling them and seeing them for what they are. Seek the support you need from other management peers in the organisation and your own leader. You may find our article on managing stress useful, not only for yourself but you can share it with your employees too.
  1. Be there
    Keep your door open for employees who want to talk to you about their worries and listen to them. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure them as much as is possible to do, but, on the flip side, be careful not to make promises you can’t keep. Say you will keep them informed as and when is appropriate to do so. Ask them if there’s anything they need from you and then respond as needed.
  1. Acknowledge uncertainty
    It’s normal for people to feel stressed about uncertainty, so acknowledge this and be understanding. By putting yourself in the shoes of your employees, you’ll understand more where they’re coming from and be better able to support them.
  1. Keep communicating
    Keep people informed as much as possible on any changes occurring in your organisation – and communicate about how this will affect them. Be open, transparent and clear in your communication. If you need to, seek specialist advice from HR and legal experts.
  1. Don’t let gossip rule
    Counteract hearsay and rumours directly by confirming what’s true and what isn’t so that there are no grey areas. Untrue rumours can be damaging, so quash them whenever possible. If there are a lot of rumours flying around, you could hold a group or ‘all hands’ meeting, addressing everyone at once directly. If appropriate, think about providing some FAQs to help people fully understand the situation.
  1. Don’t over-share
    As a leader, your people look to you to be strong, decisive and confident in tricky situations. It’s a good idea not to divulge your own worries to your employees, as it could unsettle them further. This said, as per my first point, make sure you have your own support network so you can offload to them and get advice. No-one is an island and everyone needs help through challenging times!
  1. Empowering people in their work
    Feeling out of control isn’t pleasant so it’s a good idea to let employees be in control of the things that they can be. For example, you could let them have more control over their actions and work schedule so they feel more empowered.
  1. Set clear goals
    If you can, set clear future goals to put people at ease and keep them focused on what they need to achieve. By keeping them focused on what they need to achieve, they are less likely to focus on anything negative. Have regular meetings to discuss their tasks, goals and achievements.
  1. Encourage more team work
    Whenever possible, encourage your people to work together collaboratively on projects and tasks. Group colleagues together who you know get on well and work well together. Sharing is caring and people get strength from each other! Building a sense of community and support is just what you need in uncertain times.
  1. Model and encourage self-care
    Openly show that you are taking care of yourself, by exercising, taking time out and not putting in too many long hours. Encourage your employees to do the same. If people seem overloaded, advise them to take some time out.

We’re here
Ben partners exclusively with the automotive industry to provide support for life to its people and their families. We partner with businesses to help them improve the health and wellbeing of their workforces, adding value to support greater employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

We also offer tailored HR support including helping your company deal with critical incidents that may affect its people. For more information, visit www.ben.org.uk/Ben4Business or contact ben4business@ben.org.uk.

We’re here for your people too, so if they need us, they can get in touch: www.ben.org.uk/contact-us/.

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