Will uncertainty become the norm?
The latest data from the VDAB, as well as research by the National Bank (June 2020), show that the unemployment rate has risen sharply for the well-known reason, namely Covid-19. Quite apart from the fact that this creates a lot of uncertainty for the unemployed, the question is what this does to the working population. Both the working population and those who are technically unemployed often look at the employer with frightened eyes.
Research by KU Leuven and IDEWE (May 2020) shows that almost half of the working Belgians suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of the crisis. People feel under constant pressure, they feel insecure about their own abilities and they sleep less. Uncertainty about the future affects them. Once again they look to the employer for an answer.
Surely the employer must be able to see and show the light at the end of the tunnel? Isn’t that their job? To reassure them? But what if the employer himself is worried and insecure?
We cannot give the answer to the crisis. Nobody knows the end station. Neither does the employer. And that’s just it. Don’t necessarily communicate what you know, but also what you don’t know. That’s why we give five tips on how to deal with this as an employer.
Inform, not panic.
As an employer, start with the basics. Inform others by, for example, talking to colleagues, friends from different sectors, customers,… What do they experience on the market? How do they see the future? What do they encounter during this crisis? But also, what works for them? In that way you already have a better picture, but this is more nuanced. The last thing you should do is panic because you don’t have all the information. Incomplete statements are quickly made, but not easily forgotten by the employees.
Dare to communicate about the negative outlook. Dare to admit that you do not know.
This tip is then also clear. Communicate that information. Whether it is bad or good news, the employee has the right to know where they are. If you don’t know something, admit it openly. Try to find a balance between saying honestly and sincerely what’s not going well and linking this to what is going well or what opportunities there are for the future.
As an employer or manager, recognise your insecurity.
As an employer or manager, you also have questions. You do not know what the future will bring. Recognize this openly. It is not because you are a manager that you have to hide your feelings. Sharing your fears can be a relief. “We’re all in this together, remember?
Pull open the discussions about possible actions.
Of course, decisions are made with the employer in mind. But bounce the questions back to the employee. How do they see it? How would they tackle this crisis? Where do they think there might be ways to make it more bearable? Together you always know more than alone. As an employer, realise that you are not alone. The loyal employee prefers to do meaningful work again.
And above all, acknowledge the feelings of the employee.
The employee is your talent and strength in the organization. You cannot and should not lose them. Acknowledge the fact that they may not feel good. Even if they don’t talk about it explicitly, ask them. Only when they talk about it, a solution can be found in the end.