“Rough waters are true tests of leadership. In calm water, every ship has a good captain.” — Swedish proverb
With growing coronavirus fears, stock market fluctuations, and politics dominating local and national news, it’s important that employers and employees stay calm and carry on. Employees may be struggling to stay on task and manage the day-to-day based on their fears and while it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on, it’s also important to realize that the news often has a habit of focusing on the worst possible news. Mark Twain famously quoted that “Rumors can go around the world before the truth even has time to put its boots on.”
Although there is a foundation of logic in all fear, it is also important that no matter what happens, people-, especially those in leadership positions, don’t panic and react to every single rumor. I have seen time and time again people lose their bearings and level headedness when faced with a crisis- often making the worst possible case out of an already not-great situation. Action is the antithesis of fear. Here are three actions that an employer can do to help calm people down and provide a safe work environment. These are: Plan, Communicate, and Prepare.
Every business, regardless of size, should have an emergency action plan because when emergency strikes you need to be prepared and ready for the worst. The emergency action plan should cover all of the traditional points such as evacuation procedures, escape routes and floor plans but it should also include information about how your staff will communicate, critical operations and procedures, staff responsibilities, etc. In case of an outbreak or increase in concern, a business’s plan should also contain information about what to do in the event of every kind of emergency, to include a spread of communicable diseases.
As Floridians, most of us have a plan about hurricanes. According to many disaster planning experts, a way to think about the Corona virus is to compare it to a hurricane.
Plans should also be scalable, meaning it states protocols for different levels of reaction. For example, in the face of the Coronavirus, a company should reinforce hygiene protocols and offer items like antibacterial (I know virus and bacteria are different, but still a good practice!), hand soap, sanitizer, toilet paper, and other cleaning supplies.
Without sounding cavalier about any potentially lethal disease, we need to control the rumor mill, reminding people that the virus should not affect most of the population. If you are relatively healthy the most important thing to remember is to wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Employers need to remain vigilant in our efforts to remain calm and think logically and we must remain the calming force in the middle of these volatile times.
Make sure that everyone has a copy of the action plan and create an FAQ document with bullet points specific to the emergency. Technology offers the ability to do teleconferences rather than face to face, so business travel should be ceased when possible. Monitor local and state agencies for up to date information and communicate to staff as needed. Remind employees that these are simply preventative actions to protect the business and its employees.
Here are some good resources in regarding the current situation:
Put your action plan to use and create a checklist specific to the event. Make sure that everyone has a copy of the action plan and checklist and knows their role. Train and coach your employees so that they understand what they need to do. Finally, use this time to think about how this event will change your business in the future. Determine alternate supply options in the event an emergency shuts down your supply chain.
These are important topics, but it’s important to remember to remain calm to prevent making irrational or illogical moves. Employees will be looking to employers for guidance and direction. Having a plan in place will help ensure you can proactively address some of their concerns and uncertainty as the event unfolds.
Bringing it all together,
Planning, communication and preparation are all important aspects of a business at any time, however especially when there is an external threat to operations. Businesses that see and treat their employees as “whole human beings” instead of just “work producers” have people that are more vested and more productive. Good leaders remain calm, even in potentially volatile environments and conditions. No matter what is thrown at you, leaders are responsible for getting the best result possible while staying positive and in control of their emotions.
The reality of all of this, however, is that there are going to be people and businesses negatively affected. If this is your business, and you or your employees are calling out sick to avoid business disruptions, HH Staffing can step in and help provide people that can fill in until you or your employees return to work. We are here to help you so please call on us to help you work through these challenging times should you need an extra helping hand. Stay calm and carry on!
Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant
Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.