by Michał Matejczyk, Business Development Head Entra Group, member of SIM Trójmiasto
The time of crisis is an extremely hard and aggravating moment for every business owner and manager. In the heat of the fight with new situation we in right now, often fighting for the survival of our companies, let’s not forget about one of the most important elements of our organization – the employees, for whom we “fought” in Poland with great effort every day not so long ago.
How we will support them in these difficult times will show whether for them we are true Leaders or only Bosses. In every paper, TV, news portal we can hear about home office or home work, but it look like a lot of people forget, that a large part of our companies are not an office environment. We can’t send welder, CNC machine operator, warehouseman or person packing products into boxes in picking area to work at home – production or logistics are still taking place in our factories.
A significant part of our employees are really terrified of what is happening, they are afraid for their families, their work, and thus the future that will came. Rumours and gossips appear everywhere, especially in internet and that definitely do not help in the whole situation. As Leaders, we must help our employees better understand what is happening and how to get through the current crisis. Whether we like it or not, how our company reacts to coronavirus can have a lasting impact on the perception of the company – both outside and inside.
However, we cannot focus only on typical CSR activities, our employees must believe that we are doing everything we can for them. Proper communication is essential at this point, and few typical things we should do are:
- Present the company’s situation clearly and directly. There is nothing worse than gossip and
guesses. If possible, personally tell people what’s going on with the company, what the
scenarios are, what might happen to them. Bad news is better than none.
- Prepare real health facts. Prepare appropriate, accurate information on official recommendations for employees. Give clear instructions on what to do if employees suspect they have been exposed to coronavirus. Ensure that they have your full support.
- Try to minimize the level of fear. Outline the steps the organization is taking on behalf of its employees. Provide facts from reliable resources about the spread of coronavirus and how to avoid infection. Clearly state what precautions you take to prevent infection at work.
- Promote safe behaviour through examples, visual instructions and every possible action. The best example is the provision of proper PPE.
- Promote travel safety polices. Often, our employees commute together, sometimes we have to organize transport for them. Think about how you can help here and what the limitations are. Prepare clear safety guidelines, think about how you can help them – after all, the fact that they are coming to work in one car is usually not a case of great friendship but rather way to reduce costs.
The opposite of the above-mentioned actions may be the situation I have recently come across. Employees witnessed a loud conversation between the owner and their supervisor that “disinfectant liquid is too expensive, and they can use diluted bleach to disinfect hands.” Such communication, both through form and content, is unlikely to increase employee motivation and positive perception of the company.
To summarise – don’t forget about your people, be human and support them. When the crisis is over, you will need them more than ever – thanks to them that your company will recover faster.