The Role of Business Leaders in Preserving Workplace Morale During a Crisis


All employers are committed to preserving their employees’ jobs, safety, and career development. Companies have different ways to showcase their concern to employees. Some offer financial assistance programs, while others provide workplace training programs. In Singapore, companies offer access to training and skills upgrading through SkillsFuture certification courses and supported programs.

But in these tough times, employers serve as employees’ lifelines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are finding ways to extend their assistance to employees through financial assistance, continued health coverage, and extended sick leaves. In turn, this opened opportunities for companies to showcase their leadership and social responsibility during a challenging crisis.

The pandemic has separated employees from their familiar routines, coworkers, and office spaces. These major changes have led to serious stress, resulting in low workplace morale, fragmented team cohesion, and dampened job performance. For these reasons, it’s never been more important for employers to embrace new strategies to support employees while helping the company thrive amid a crisis.

It’s not surprising why companies are under the microscope in these tough situations. They have to make the right decisions and display proper behaviors. With this in mind, we’ll discuss how companies can lead the workplace in a crisis and the leadership behaviors they need to embody.

Communicate regularly

Employees value open and transparent leadership more than ever. Discuss your plans to guide the organization through the crisis to reduce anxiety and provide the team with a stronger sense of direction.

When assigning tasks, explain to employees the reason behind it and how their role will help achieve the desired business outcome. If your staff requests additional resources or paid leave, and you have to turn them down, tell them the reason behind your refusal.

In business relationships, overcommunication doesn’t exist. You may not have a concrete strategy, but your priorities, observations, and values can help you navigate tough situations.

Workplace communication also requires more empathy. Empathy is the ability to view the world from others’ perspectives and responding with compassionate action. According to experts, empathy brings employers a competitive advantage in business. It leads to accelerated innovation and productivity and expanded collaboration and engagement.

Leaders need to connect with employees, particularly those going through sadness, pain, and anxiety. They have to acknowledge everyone’s fears and determine the type of support they can extend in different situations. Some may be depressed, got sick, lost a family member, or require financial assistance. In this case, having empathy means knowing what your employees are going through and helping them survive it.

Make significant adjustments

Everyone is facing a crisis. In turn, business leaders have to make hard decisions about which priorities and operations to delay until everyone has fully recovered. Keep in mind that your employees are also human beings, and they need to understand the company is facing circumstances beyond your control. Stay transparent and clear when explaining the things you can and cannot be done under specific conditions, and keep everyone updated every time the situation changes.

This is a perfect time to showcase your compassion and patience. You may be running a business and facing tight deadlines, but remember that you rely on your people to stay afloat. Look after them, and they will also do the same for your business.

Sensitivity and flexibility are the keys to navigate and manage a crisis effectively. Once you understand your employees’ individual situations, create a work plan based on each person’s priorities and identify which ones should dedicate less time at work.

Low-risk and non-urgent projects should be rescheduled to a later date. Assign employees at least one to two achievable tasks each day and maintain regular communication to monitor their progress or provide suggestions if they need help.

Upgrade employee benefits and perks

High deductibles and expensive copays can serve as barriers to employees from getting the help they need. Use this time to discover supplemental assistance offerings. Some examples are employee assistance programs that offer mental health therapy, stress management, caregiving services, and substance abuse counseling.

Providing wellness stipends or crisis-specific programs is an effective way to keep employees motivated amid a crisis. This makes them feel that the company is making efforts to reinforce and building their morale. If managed well, employees are likely to be more productive, helping the business propel towards intense corporate growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unexpected toll on both employees and business leaders. How employers respond to the current crisis tells a lot about how you manage your organization and workforce. Taking necessary measures and providing comfort can significantly affect the organization’s reputation and workforce morale during a crisis.

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