In times of global crisis or current events, employers have a role to play beyond just keeping the business moving forward. We are leaders, not just in the corporate world, but within our communities and industries. Responding to a global crisis as an employer is not just about protecting your bottom line; it’s about safeguarding your employees, supporting your community, and exemplifying corporate responsibility. We will be remembered for how we showed up for our teams and community.
What is the employer’s role in responding to the news?
What constitutes a crisis or current event? Think back and remember the impact of the death of notable leaders, 9/11, the market crash, countless mass shootings, police violence, elections, political unrest, Covid-19, supreme court rulings, and most recently the advancing of genocide of the Palestian people.
Many employers are asking themselves what their role is during moments like these. Many employees are afraid of the repercussions of taking a stance or needing support. There are no easy answer, and there is no one size fits all approach. What we can do is treat people with care and kindness and approach conversations with curiosity.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some key strategies for employers to effectively respond to a global crisis.
Strategies for Responding During a Crisis or Current Event
1. Prioritize Employee Well-Being: Protecting and prioritizing your team’s well being is part of being a mission driven organization. Here are a few ways to move into your leadership position with a people first perspective:
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Adapt to remote work when possible, allowing employees to work from the safety of their homes. Employees may feel overstimulated, emotional, and triggered by the constant influx of traumatic news. Offer no camera meetings and work from home options. Especially for those whose families are directly impacted by the global crisis or current events.
- Mental Health Support: Offer resources and encourage open conversations about mental health to help employees cope with stress and anxiety. Create a culture that empowers employees to utilize their mental health days if needed.
- Safety Measures: Implement strict safety protocols to protect those who must work on-site. Especially during times of political crisis, ensure that harassment of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, and all identities are protected. Culture is what we allow therefore interrupting all potential for violence is necessary.
2. Transparent and Consistent Communication: Clear, honest, and regular communication is essential during a crisis. Keep your employees informed about:
- Business Operations: Share any changes in the company’s operation, including shifts in business strategy, layoffs, or furloughs. If your business, service users or customers, are directly affected by a global crisis, keep your teams informed about the potential changes in the pipeline. Ensure your teams have talking points to share with those clients or service users.
- Safety Measures: Communicate safety protocols, prevention guidelines, and any measures taken to protect employees. Reiterate anti-harassment policies during a time of social or political unrest.
- Emotional Support: Let employees know about available resources and support for their emotional and mental well-being. Host listening sessions or bring in counselors to support your team members who are being directly affected by the crisis.
3. Community Engagement: Your responsibilities extend beyond your workplace. Consider your role in the broader community:
- Philanthropy: Contribute to community relief efforts, donating funds or resources. Communicate any donated matching programs.
- Volunteering: Encourage employees to participate in volunteer activities that support the community. If you offer VTO, encourage employees to use it. Be clear about what falls under VTO.
- Community Events: Attend community events that encourage solidarity and support. Create moments of connection when spirits are down.
4. Long-Term Vision: While addressing immediate needs is crucial, it’s equally important to think about the long-term. Consider:
- Sustainable Practices: Reevaluate your plans for global or local emergencies or news. Is there a process or plan for moments that require additional care for your teams? By creating a culture of intention, you avoid being reactive in moments of crisis.
- Education: Create learning opportunities for connection, interrupting bias, and connecting across differences. Awareness can help remove barriers on fractures teams,
5. Marketing and External Communication: Use your mission, vision, and values to guide a proactive marketing strategy.
- Values driven content: If your brand responds to a crisis or current event outside of your typical brand voice, it may come across as disingenuous. If you create values driven content throughout the year, responding to a crisis will feel in alignment with your brand. Use your voice and speak up for what you value.
- Be honest: Speak from a place of knowledge and expertise. Be mindful of the impact of your influence and power. Consider if and when to speak up. If your goals throughout the year have been in reflection of a values driven workplace culture, it may not be necessary to be reactive in times of global news. Support your teams and stay true to your brand’s role in social justice or global influence.
- Education: Understand media literacy and propaganda tactics to avoid falling into social media traps. Think back to The Black Square of 2020. Think critically, do research, and understand where you may have gaps in understanding. Find additional resources and tap into your community for first hand perspectives and news.
Global crises can test the values and judgment of any employer. How you respond defines not just your company’s reputation but also your role in the community. By prioritizing the well-being of your employees, you can lead your organization through challenging times and earn the trust of your teams. Remember that your actions as an employer can have a lasting impact, not just on your bottom line but on the world at large.