How to Help Your Employees Manage Stress After a Crisis
When a crisis hits a workplace – whether natural or man-made – it creates a huge challenge for all employees. Crises can be especially hard for managers who need to address their own stress and emotional needs while also helping their employees.
Disasters can and will hit every type of workplace. For those who work in manual labor, accidents and injuries happen and need to be properly managed. For desk jobs, natural disasters can take a toll, but so can errors that derail a project and cause stress to your organization.
The first and most important step a workplace can take to manage a crisis is to create a positive work environment before disaster strikes.
How to promote a positive workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are steps employers can take before a crisis hits to prevent as many crises as possible and help prepare employees emotionally. Their recommendations include1
- Proactive stress management plans for when needed
- Clear organizational structures with defined roles and responsibilities
- Promoting a positive and healthy work environment
- Designing a stress management plan
- Offering team support
According to Inc., a work environment thrives when teams begin their days with gratitude and express appreciation for one another2
Building a positive work culture can seem unimportant when there are other pressing client needs, but a positive work culture has many long-term effects that help provide the best work product possible. It also reduces stress in employees, which can be very helpful when dealing with a stressful situation.
Forbes reports that, “a positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises morale, increase productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees3
How to minimize stress after a crisis
Disasters that affect the workplace create challenges for everyone. For managers, it’s especially important to understand how your employees may feel and to take steps to help them assess their emotions and deal with the fallout.
Set the tone
One of the most important things managers can do after a crisis is to set the tone of how the aftermath will unfold. It’s important to portray a sense of calm and optimism even in the face of difficulties. Managers who are able to do that will assure their coworkers that all is under control and there is less to fear than they may think4
By treating coworkers and employees with respect and listening to their fears and concerns, you will help to create a sense of calm and respect in the workplace that can help control the crisis going forward.
Keep open and frequent communication
After a crisis there will be a lot of questions and most likely, gossip. By holding regular meetings that address the problem, keep employees in the loop, and listen to their concerns and ideas, it will help to minimize stress.
It is important to communicate about what happened to cause the crisis, the damage the crisis caused, and also what the plans are going forward from both a procedural and supervisory standpoint.
Additionally, make sure each employee understands their role in the crisis. What are your expectations of them? Do they have work to do? Would it be better for them to stay out of the way? Prepare your employees for what is expected of them and their deadlines.
A crisis changes things. Acknowledge what your employees are feeling and get them the help they need. Pay attention to your employees’ emotional state and encourage them to share their concerns and fears.
What to do after the crisis has been resolved
Once the crisis is over, not everything will go back to normal immediately. There will be work to do once the initial adrenaline rush has ended that can help prepare your workplace for future crises. Additionally, there will continue to be transition work for a lot of employees. Here are a few ways to minimize stress once the crisis is over:
- Give time off if possible and necessary
- Provide workers with counseling
- Talk to employees to help get their point of view and understand how they view their job post-crisis
- Provide workshops on stress management
Disasters and crises that affect the workplace change office dynamics. They inflict stress and challenges that employees may not be prepared for. By taking the steps above, you can help employees work their way through the crisis itself and the aftermath.