A social crisis, such as COVID-19, can innocently spark tension among your employees. Between your team members’ personal feelings toward the crisis and the constant stream of mixed media messages, it can be challenging to keep everyone connected and focused. To help guide you during this unique social climate, the following six tips are for easing workplace tension during a social crisis.

1. Focus on Bringing Your Team Together

Take a moment to assess what your team may be thinking or feeling and respond with empathy and sensitivity. Your employees will look to you for guidance, and your compassionate leadership response can go a long way in strengthening your team dynamic. Focus, first and foremost, on using inclusive language and helping your employees to remember that they are all in this together, supporting each other through a time of such uncertainty.

2. Stay Ahead of Possible Conflicts

Try your best to stay ahead of possible conflicts. Not only does a social crisis stir up strong emotions, but it also creates a potentially divisive environment. Each of your employees will react differently due to elements such as their background, beliefs, or their personal connection to the crisis. By remaining aware of how members of your team are handling the crisis, you can identify situations before they arise.

To remain aware of how your employees are feeling, you must first encourage communication. Promote the implementation of an open-door policy for all leadership positions, if one does not already exist. Let your employees know that you are there to answer their questions and hear their concerns. Some employees might feel hesitant to speak up when they are having a difficult time coping; schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each of your employees to ensure that their voices are heard equally.

3. Encourage Healthy Habits

You can’t avoid the inevitable emotional changes that come with a social crisis. You can, however, control how you respond. Your leadership can be a powerful tool in encouraging healthy habits that allow your employees to manage their emotions in a healthy way. This could include emphasizing the need for social media breaks, for example.

Other healthy habits to promote are:

  • Regular breaks throughout the day
  • Daily exercise and self-care
  • Mental health awareness
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Creative expression
  • Social connection with coworkers

4. Create an Environment of Respect

Workplace tension can snowball quickly, leading to disagreements and, potentially, disrespectful arguments. Let your employees know that it is of the utmost importance for them to interact with coworkers in a respectful manner. You and other members of leadership can share examples of respectful language and healthy workplace boundaries. In addition, remind your team that disrespect and harassment will not be tolerated.

5. Keep Your Team Connected

If the social crisis has your team working from their homes, as with the coronavirus pandemic, the lack of social interaction may create a disconnected team environment. The human connection your employees have is vital, especially when working remotely. Try to foster remote relationship-building with creative solutions. Get your team involved in listing ideas that could bring everyone together.

Here are a few examples of ways to stay connected:

  • Regularly scheduled team video calls
  • Virtual happy hours or coffee chats
  • Team message boards with fun topics
  • A shared team playlist

6. Be Empathetic

Possibly the most important item on this list is to show empathy. A social crisis is difficult for everyone in some way, and your team needs your support. Productivity levels may change, work patterns may be different, and even the way an employee interacts with their team could shift. These reactions are coming from a place of stress, fear, or uncertainty, as the team copes with change. Be there to lend a hand where you can, and continue to remind your employees that you are there for them.

Contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can support your HR operations—especially during a time of crisis.