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Ask Dr. Sharkey: Employee Communication Tactics to Calm Employees Recession Fears

Posted by Dr. Linda Sharkey on 10.10.2019

Sharkey

“Dr. Sharkey, as I’m sure you’ve heard, financial experts predict a recession in 2020. Understandably, this sends some employees into a panic. Panic often leads to a loss in productivity or even retention. What can I do to keep my team calm with the predicted recession?”

 

This is a great question and one all leaders should take to heart. When employees are nervous about their work stability, it’s critical that leaders communicate, communicate, and communicate more.

Unfortunately, I often see organizations and leaders shy away from employee communication during difficult times. They retreat into their offices because they’re unsure what to say. This is a big mistake.

Still, leaders and companies are known for waiting, on average, 21 days before they focus on employee communication and their team’s concerns. Here’s what happens in that 21 days -- the rumor mill starts and the water cooler chatter takes hold. By the time you start communicating the facts, employees already believe the rumors they heard and no longer trust you.

Don’t make this mistake. Instead, get out among your staff and start talking. Ask employees in round table and town hall informal settings what concerns and worries they have regarding the potential recession.

Then, answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. You will not have all the answers, and that’s OK. If you don’t know, say so. Often times, leaders fear being asked things they cannot answer and will make them appear weak. As a result, they simply stop communicating. There is nothing wrong with saying you don’t know and telling employees you’ll get back to them soon. This builds trust and authenticity within your company.

Avoid employee communication that isn’t straight from you, like newsletters and video blasts, except periodically. Employees want to hear the news from their boss and they want to hear it in person. If employees are remote, use technology to have personalized chats.

Here’s a guide to help you start these productive discussions:

  • Share what you know
  • Paint a clear picture of what the future may hold
  • Share what employees will personally gain if they work through the recession
  • Discuss what you need from them
  • Ask what’s on their mind and board the questions on a flip chart
  • Go through the questions one by one as you answer.
  • Ask if this was helpful and what they’d like to see change

 

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Topics: employee communications, employee experience, employee communication

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