A company, people working, business as usual. Then, comes an external event that changes everything. One that is sufficiently important to shake people up. Interrogations, anxiety, unknown, people are facing crisis in many different ways.
There are 8 key actions Human Resources should take in times of crisis
One of the first role of HR is to inform. One of the main factors of anxiety is lack of knowledge and understanding. It is crucial to do its best to inform everybody, so they know where to stand, what to expect and how to cope with the situation. The information needs to be complete, transparent and honest. We can share only what we know but we have to let people know that we are not aware of everything.
The second role is to support people. To be there for its employees. To listen to them, to be patient and to make sure they can voice their worries, interrogations and anxieties. For somebody to be able to express his feeling contributes greatly to keep his level of stress on a controlled level, even if the HR does not have the answers to their queries, it needs to support.
The Human Resources may not have all solutions, but they need to try to help in every case. It can be in a form of an advice or a contact. To brainstorm together with the employee in order to find a solution to a specific request. The HR needs to provide help as it has capabilities that the employee alone may not have.
Every person reacts in a different way. Some may overreact and some may hide in deny. It is crucial that the HR makes the effort to try to understand every one of them. To take every reaction seriously and not to try to downplay some of them. Every reaction needs to be heard without judgement. Understanding and listening are very important in order to keep the situation as healthy as possible.
Life at work can be quite different from private life, but HR needs to express extra empathy in times of crisis. To be able to be in another people’ shoes in essential. The employee will feel heard and understood. He will feel that the leaders of the company can be trusted and will react positively when specific instructions are given.
It is a crisis for everybody, the employee, the direction, the company, everybody. If the employee needs to adapt to the crisis, the company itself needs to do the same. The HR needs to think about the situation and think about how to adapt its processes. Things can not move forward as usual. Listening and being there is essential but if it is to keep everything as usual, then it is not worth much.
Time of crisis are asking for leaders. Employees are looking for leaders. It can be the senior management of the company or the HR, or both. But they need to feel that somebody is in charge. Somebody that can be trusted, listen to and follow. HR is the communication channel to answer this challenge. HR needs to reassure people that no, everything is not fine, but yes, we are here to go through this crisis together.
If in the middle of a crisis, looking forward can be quite a challenge, the HR will make sure that it keeps the future in mind. It can be by trying to find better way to cope with crisis in the future, the things about what to do when the crisis vanishes or make sure to thank and congratulate employee for going through such crisis together.
HR is the link, the cement in time of crisis. It needs to be transparent, honest, ready to listen and to advise. Most important maybe, it needs to show clearly that it is there for their employee whatever it takes. HR can be demanding when everything is going well only if they are there in difficult times. Human Resources need to show leadership.
Captain, oh my Captain...
What do you think?
Do you have any suggestion how to handle crisis form an HR point of view?