Many companies have already implemented policies, communications, and contingencies for how they will operate during the current public health issue of the coronavirus (COVID-19). And while there is no way to overstate how important those preparations are, there's another hugely important thing for companies to consider:
How should your organization keep your company culture strong during this stressful time?
As leaders and managers, there are plenty of things we can do to ensure our teams are as focused, positive, and productive as possible.
Here are 5 things we recommend:
1. Be empathetic.
Some of your employees may be rattled and uncertain about the news they're hearing day in and day out. They may be feeling scared or anxious about their own health or the health of others. They may be feeling fearful.
So, if you notice someone acting a bit off or unfocused, approach them with empathy and understanding. You don't have to let their performance slide, but show that you care, and give them the opportunity to express their concerns to you so you can work together to tackle them.
2. Be reassuring.
There are a lot of unreliable sources out there, so show your team what it looks like to be a voice of reason. Point them to credible sources (like the CDC), updates, and advice on how to mitigate the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Also, your team is more likely to remain calm if you maintain a calm energy. And that's important! Because immune systems work better when they are not stressed. So keep calm, stay positive and pragmatic, and let the team know you're all going to get through this.
3. Be transparent.
Staying positive does not mean pretending everything is totally normal. So, rather than risk your credibility, just be clear and honest about what is happening and how your company is addressing it.
If you don't know an answer, that's okay too. Just reassure your team that you'll look into or consider it, and get back to them with the information they requested. Being deliberate, thoughtful, and transparent will inspire trust and keep your team feeling like things are under control.
4. Be flexible.
Many companies have implemented remote work policies, whether to limit the likelihood of illness spreading through things like a commute on public transit, or to make it easier for parents to be home if their children's schools close. This type of flexibility, when possible, will give your employees a sense of control over the interactions they have. This could do wonders for both their stress levels and their focus.
5. Be present.
Last but not least, it's important to recognize that morale may be down, simply because of fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus. So, try to be present — virtually or in person — so your team knows you're there to support them.
In particular if your company is teleworking, recognize that your team is not getting as many personal interactions, casual conversations, or opportunity to feel connected. So, more than just work meetings, make sure that you're taking time to connect, one-on-one or as a full team. Try to add some warmth, fun, and personality to your huddles and meetings with purposeful connection exercises.
It won't help you or your team to get caught up in a panic. So, following these 5 steps will make you pay mind to your company culture, your team's needs, and your long-term business goals.
Looking for a partner to work with you on improving your company culture? We'd love to help. Reach out to learn more about ZogCulture's connection cards, digital connection exercises, or events.