3 Key Steps Leaders Can Take to Relieve Employee Anxiety

April 2, 2020

By: Thomas Schlick

Picture this. You are sitting in your office, quite content with the month’s performance, and excited about the year ahead for you and your entire company. The date is early February 2020. Then in late February/early March, you encounter the classic “cliff event.” Everything in your organization and the world around you has changed – virtually overnight!

Your planning horizon shifted from over a year to a month – to right now! Instead of worrying about finding top talent in a tight job market, you now find yourself deeply concerned about customers canceling or delaying orders, putting the brakes on your own supply chain, and figuring out how to simply make payroll. 

And what about your employees? The thought of layoffs or furloughs is now top of mind for both you and them. Also, many employees have not experienced a national crisis like this. All they have known since 2008 is an upward path for the economy and the security of their growing 401(k)s. Now they are confused about what has happened and find themselves engulfed in uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

This is when you and your leadership team are needed most. Don’t fret. There are ways to make this difficult time just a little bit easier and ease your employees’ anxiety. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it. 

Having lived through other crises, it’s been my experience that there are 3 key steps that leaders must take to bring calm amidst the chaos and provide stress relief for their employees.

1. Keep building trust & be transparent

Trust is a fragile thing. It can take years to build and establish – and just seconds to completely destroy. In order to help calm employee anxiety at your company, your leadership team should be super transparent and provide consistent, timely communication with the most up-to-date information on how the company is doing. Keeping your employees updated will also give you a better idea of where your company stands while offering stress relief for your employees. People want the truth – even if it is somewhat painful to hear.

2. Be even more compassionate

You and your team have probably done a great job of being compassionate. Now is the time to be even better. Engage in active listening sessions with your employees to hear what they and their families are going through, and be empathetic to their concerns. Remember, it’s not a matter of “show you care” – but rather the “care you show.” People can see – and feel – genuine compassion, so take this time to reach out.

3. Provide hope for the future

It’s easy to jump on the negative bandwagon and foresee a mostly bleak scenario for the months to come. I’m not suggesting for you, or anyone on your team, to become blind to the challenges ahead. That said, it is amazing what your company can do when you actively generate creative, innovative ideas to give your business a little push forward. Enlist your entire team in the effort and make sure to share success stories – no matter how small! Each step forward builds momentum and increases morale, contributing to your ability to provide stress relief for your employees. When you and your leadership team speak about the company’s future from a platform of hope, your talented team of people will re-engage in the business. As you keep a positive attitude and consistently look for the good, their uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and fear will begin to subside.

CO2 Offers More Solutions on Easing Employee Anxiety

One thing is crystal clear. All crises pass, and brighter days lie ahead. By following the 3 key steps outlined above, you will set your company up for a faster and more prosperous recovery while helping the ones in your business that matter the most — your employees.

Contact our leadership coaches today for a risk-free consultation and see how we can help you and your team lead through these challenging times.


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