In a recent webinar we shared guidance with HR, leaders and managers on how they can best care for their team right now. Here’s 10 things that were shared by our hosts CEO LEANNE MAREGA, Chief Thriving Officer KAREN ABBS & Psychosocial & Wellbeing Lead BEN PORTER.
We need to recognise that the conflict is impacting staff in different ways. Some live and work in the region and are directly impacted by it. Others feel distressed by following it from afar. We’ve seen that a lot of workers also feel that the actions or communication of their employer are at odds with their own moral boundaries. And for others, we see compassion fatigue: a cynicism, detachment, or exhaustion about what’s going on. It is important to have a strategy of care for each group.
Many people feel helpless and hopeless about the situation. This can often lead to guilt and shame, which in turn can lead them to make poor choices about their own self-care. They might think ‘I shouldn’t look after myself as others are experiencing so much suffering’. Managers and leaders can show people that the opposite is true, by being role-models of self-care. What can you choose to do to look after yourself today?
In times of crisis, staff need to know they are valued. It’s especially important right now that managers and leaders acknowledge, appreciate and encourage their team. It can make a real difference to their engagement, motivation and wellbeing. And it can be contagious too: show appreciation to someone, and they are more likely to show it to others. How can you show you value your team at the moment?
In times of crisis, a person’s resilience can depend on them having positive relationships with people around them. If you create opportunities for staff to connect then they are less likely to withdraw and become isolated. Does your work have a ‘peer support’ or ‘buddy system’? If you work remotely, can you arrange a coworking day, or an informal online chat? Alternatively, we can help you provide space for an individual or group in your organisation to pause, reflect and plot a path through a difficult time.
When events feel overwhelming, take time out to breathe and reflect. Our body and mind are connected. When you step away from the source of your stress (be it media, social media, or work) and take slow breaths, it taps into your central nervous system and tells your body ‘it’s ok to relax’. As you do this, even in the midst of a crisis, try to also remind yourself of good things in life. We need space both for grief, anger and lamenting, but for noticing the positives as well. One shouldn’t come at the expense of the other.
Choose to ‘respond’ to stress rather than ‘react’ to it. If you feel stressed, pause to identify those feelings. Sit with them and reflect. This can help your rational brain take charge and choose how you want to respond, rather than respond automatically.
In a crisis, people can find it harder to absorb information. And so good communication with your team is crucial right now. Keep it simple, clear and short. And repeat key information. Leaders and managers sometimes forget that staff might not read (or hear) everything you say. This applies whether you are communicating one-on-one, or organisation-wide. It helps if managers understand trauma – a training like this can help.
Communication needs to be two-way. Never underestimate the power of listening. And good listening starts with asking good questions: ask staff what they might need from you right now. You can then co-create the support they need, which they can feel ownership about. We know from experience that staff feel valued and cared for when this happens. We offer Coaching for managers and leaders that can help to develop these skills.
Staff may disagree with how you communicate, or decisions you make, regarding the conflict. Acknowledge that it is hard. Try to be direct with people who might be challenged. Meet one-on-one if necessary, to acknowledge their anger, explain your decision-making, and find ways to support them. This could include giving them different tasks to avoid encounters that might upset them. Or it could mean giving them time off. But don’t ignore them.
If you want support with an issue, or help thinking about how you can care for a particular staff group impacted by the crisis, then get in touch with us. You might like to start by browsing all the services and trainings we offer on our interactive service page. Or you can contact us – we would be happy to chat further.