While it’s not yet clear the extent to which COVID-19 will take its toll on our collective epidemiological, social, and economic health, businesses are preparing for multiple scenarios. If you’re asking the tough questions about how resilient your business is, it really boils down to how resilient are your people?
Here are tips for creating effective, actionable emails, town halls, and intranet/portal messages to support your employees.
– Reassure your employees that you are closely following CDC and other guidelines and that health and safety is your #1 priority.
– Coronavirus is driving global anxiety and shared fear — everyone is living in this extreme state of uncertainty. It’s a natural response that’s rooted in self-preservation.
– We may not always be able to control the outcome of a situation, but we can control our response to it. So while a person can do little to control the impact of the virus, everyone can help themselves, their colleagues, their families and our communities by controlling reactions and the response. This is called resilience.
– Resilience gives us the tools to get through challenging situations: managing stress, anxiety and worst-case thinking.
– Resilience is not just a buzzword. It’s a set of learnable skills — proven by science — that enable us to be agile and able to manage through adverse, fast-changing and difficult situations such as we are facing now.
– Every employee in the company is important and has a role to play right now: Everyone plays a part in making decisions based on facts rather than emotional reactions. Otherwise, everything from high-level goals to operating practices can be at risk.
– If every person strives to be resilient as an individual, this will create resilience in the organization.
The most important takeaway? These four specific actions for individuals, teams, and leaders:
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check. Coronavirus has our brains pinging on “future threat” driving global anxiety and shared fear. Stay calm and work to keep your emotions in check, particularly anxiety, which will take center stage. Work to catch those anxious thoughts before they spiral, and reframe them into more realistic, probable outcomes.
2. Remain Realistic. People will begin to catastrophize in this extreme situation. It’s a natural response that’s rooted in self-preservation. But when you focus on the worst-case scenario, you allot the majority of your energy to worrying about something that hasn’t actually happened yet. At the same time, there may be other possible outcomes and choices at your disposal that you’re not seeing. Complete this sentence out loud: “I’m afraid that _______.” Is it a realistic outcome or is it a more extreme scenario that may be less likely to happen? If it’s a real fear, what’s one action you can take right now to feel more in control and less a victim of circumstance? Write it down, schedule it, and do it.
3. Let’s Practice Empathy. While our fear responses may escalate beyond reason, the fear response itself is normal. It’s important right now to communicate — over communicate — and to trust each other. There will be times when information may be unclear, and that will undoubtedly foster anxiety. Communication, relating to each other, and trust will help. By definition, empathy involves taking the perspective of another, which will help everyone feel less alone in whatever feeling they are experiencing. Try to be candid and supportive about the current situation.
4. Adaptive is Key. Working smart means making informed adjustments based on the information you have. Limit the amount of energy spent on speculation. Use mindfulness to stay in the moment. Remember to breathe throughout the day, and consider taking a moment before your meetings to pause, breath and focus. We can only control today, this moment. Using simple breathing mindfulness techniques or meditation will serve to bring us back to the present, calm the mind, and reduce the high level of stress that we are all feeling now.
For more tips, check out this post on Forbes from meQuilibrium CEO, Jan Bruce, The Leader’s Guide to Managing COVID-19 Panic.