Between fears and uncertainty about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the stock market turmoil, employees may be more emotional than usual. Some may even be disruptive; or their anxieties may rub off on others. Here are some steps to keep employees calm when crises and unusual stresses heighten emotion responses:
- First, de-escalate. Move the person to a quiet space and, if necessary, have someone (a counselor or manager) sit with the person, listen, and provide reassurance. If the person is disruptive and hurting morale and productivity, it may be useful to send the person home. Contact HR for guidance.
- Watch your own words and actions. Keep your personal fears and worries in check. It’s up to you to set and maintain the tone of the conversation. However, if you’re having a difficult time, seek help for yourself as soon as possible.
- Plan ahead. Know the person, why he or she is so upset, and determine a line of conversation that is most likely to be helpful. If another manager knows the person and is comfortable having the conversation, consider passing the baton in the best interest of everyone.
- Set the tone for the discussion with some positive information.
- Make sure your comments are true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. Don’t berate, dismiss, or embarrass your employee.
- Acknowledge and listen. Let the person talk, cry, and vent. Don’t judge. Acknowledge the validity of the individual’s fears.
- If you hear something that is beyond your capability to help, refer the person to someone who can. Follow-up later and make sure the person gets necessary help or support.
If an employee has others agitated, anxious, or upset, make sure they know where to go for support. It may be valuable to schedule a luncheon, mid-morning coffee and donuts, pet visits, concert, or other positive, fun activity to refocus people and remind them that the company cares about their feelings and wellbeing.