One of the most significant risks that a business can take today is not adequately communicating with their staff. If any of the predictions are valid, the COVID-19 virus will be with us for the long term, so we’re going to need to clearly understand how to protect our staffs’ perception of the issue. To understand this more clearly, I went to a trusted source. Sara Joslyn is the HR Manager of Orion Homes. Orion currently has 15 healthcare facilities in Arizona and is known as the #1 behavioral health residential provider in the state.

So far, during this pandemic, the staff at Orion Homes has had no break. They are literally on the front-line 24 hours a day. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on management, staff, and residents. I asked Sara to share with me exactly what Orion has learned about managing their team in any crisis, let alone one that doesn’t seem to want to go away.

Here are a few of her suggestions.

  1. Over Communicate: Your staff must get their crucial information from the company, not the media, so communicate as much as you can regularly and be transparent and open about everything from legal issues and policies and procedures, to the latest pandemic updates.
  2. Manage emotions: You must be aware of your staff’s feelings and emotions, but you must also share fact-based and direct explanations.
  3. Maintain an open forum: Listen to your staff and understand their potential fears. Create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable in sharing their concerns. Ask them if they have issues in doing their jobs and try to understand those fears.
  4. Explain your actions! If you make a move that affects the staff, it might be useful to explain why the movement is happening. The reason you do something should have a value, so share it.
  5. Be direct. Now is not the time for flowery explanations. Your staff doesn’t want that. Just tell them like it is and don’t mince words.
  6. Give your staff options. Give them lots of options.
  7. Have clear consequences. Be sure that the staff understands that there are consequences to not following crisis procedures. Ignoring company rules can quickly become a life and death matter.
  8. Enforce a positive attitude. Stay positive in all communications. In most cases, your staff will exhibit actions that are a direct reflection of the position they perceive coming from their leaders.
  9. Make the staff feel valued. More than ever, you need to show every team member that they are valued. Talk about their concern. Brag on them in public, in memos, and emails. Reward them for their efforts, commitment, and risk. All of this starts from the top down.
  10. Learn from the experience. Keep close track of what is working and not working when it comes to dealing with your staff in a time of crisis. Then, as you move forward, day to day, prepare a plan so that you’re ready when and if it should happen again. Prepare for a “no surprises” future.

Your HR department should take a key leadership role in helping the company deal with the crisis and move forward. Nothing is easy in times like these, but a successful HR strategy can help any team persevere, gain confidence, become more resilient and come out of the crisis more durable than ever!

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