How do you keep employees happy during a crisis, when outside circumstances create uncertainty and fear for the workplace?
Sounds like for many employees the anxiety from the fear of change, the unknown, and of people they don’t know pulling the strings of their futures will be very real. Personally, I would treat this more as a pastoral counselling situation. How can you care for your people through this unsettled time?
In happiness terms, this is a time to focus on relationships. The employees (especially those on the lower levels) will want to talk. Perhaps organize meetings in small groups to talk openly about anything they wish to talk about. Speak honesty about the situation (the good, the bad, what you know, what you don’t know, etc.) and as you can, be fully transparent about your and the boss’ motives and feelings and hopes.
The idea is to build relationships with and among the employees, which is often much easier to do in the tough times when people will be more eager to share their lives and not just our jobs. Speak of fear and doubt, offer support and encouragement and strength to one another. The poncho exercise might work well to conclude such a meeting, to cement the reality that each has real worth and are bound together.
Relationships form in crises. Foster that. The results and the foundations for an even happier workplace are being laid even now my friend.
This is not only great advice, but it also fits perfectly with the science that shows that social support is especially important for us when we face uncertainty or external threats.
Unfortunately we are working against our natural tendencies here. When people face some sort of threat or crisis, we often react by becoming more selfish and by closing ourselves off to others – the exact opposite of what we need.