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3 Ways to Help Employees in Times of Crisis
From Hurricane Michael in Florida to wildfires in California, natural disaster strikes impact more and more people around the country and disrupt every facet of life in the process. When someone is dealing with a crisis like this, often one of the last things on their mind is work.
These trying times are opportunities for your organization to demonstrate empathy and show that you care about your team members on a personal level. When they’re ready to come back to work, your display of concern can also serve as reinforcement that they belong to an organization that cares about its employees. This surely helps with engagement and retention of your employees.
In terms of a response to employees in crisis, here are a few ways that you can help without adding too much additional burden to you or them.
No matter what type of natural disaster strikes, it’s likely to bring a great deal of uncertainty to those involved. The loss of power or water — or an entire home — can put someone’s life in a state of temporary disarray.
The top priorities during these times should be finding safe food, water, and shelter and returning to normal life as quickly as possible. Making these things happen might require an employee to miss more time than normal or temporarily change their working schedule.
Every company and every situation is different, so it’s hard to say exactly what will work best, but in general, it’s better to err on the side of flexibility during times of crisis. The same thing applies to candidates in a job search. Allow extra time to complete pre-employment assessments and other components of a job search.
Does your organization have a vacation donation program? A relationship with a vendor who can help a displaced employee? Natural disasters and other crises are a time for thinking outside the box and pulling together resources that can help people get back on their feet.
These times also allow team members to come together for one another. This is something you can encourage as a leader or manager. Set up a schedule for making meals or running errands. Collect donations or organize a fundraiser to help with recovery costs.
If your organization has a vacation donation program, natural disasters are certainly a time when it should be used. Encourage your team to participate and work with leadership to establish a program if there’s not one in place.
Even a small gesture can go a long way toward helping someone feel cared for during a time when they need it most.
Reinforce Company Culture
If someone is not able to come to work for an extended period of time, they might feel like they are not performing or not a valued member of the team. This is your opportunity as a manager to say that’s okay when dealing with times of crisis.
There’s more to life than work and, while being productive is important, it’s not everything. Let your team member know that they are not being penalized if their duties are re-assigned while they are out of the office and that everything will be waiting for them when they get back.
Whenever one person on a team is not contributing, it’s easy for others to begin feeling resentment and venting frustrations around the water cooler. Be aware that this might happen and focus on team building activities that support the employee in crisis and create a positive company culture — rather than knocking that person down for not being in the office.
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