How to keep employees happy during times of crisis

Running a company is a rather difficult task in ‘normal’ circumstances. But when a challenge arises which threatens that normalcy, the role of you as the CEO or Boss is the person to whom employees look to for clarity; reassurance and a practical plan of action are key during a time of crisis.

The day COVID-19 came to birth, in South Africa, people around the country faced the threat with a brazen attitude. Unfortunately, companies have had to shut daily processes down to contain the virus – an essential step. The leaders of companies must now, persevere and steer their ships to clearer waters to ensure the survival of businesses and jobs, and this starts with the employees. While some companies struggle with the reality of shutting their doors, and others turn to government initiatives, such as The Solidarity Fund and the SMME Relief Fund, to provide some relief to employees, others are working from home, and this is not an easy task. Now, more than ever, employers need to guide and assist employees with adjusting to this change and reviewing work routines to maintain a stable flow of productivity.

1. Focus on employee engagement:
Promote an open-door policy – humanise yourself. Allow yourself to be slightly more open with your employees. The usual communication protocol does not see employer and employee conversing via social mediums such as Whatsapp, for example. It is important to create a virtual atmosphere of comfort and involvement.

2. Keep employees informed:
It is important to be transparent with your staff during times of uncertainty. This will ensure employees are kept motivated to be productive. When people are kept in the loop of the companies’ plans and ideas to move forward, this creates a sense of trust, which in turn leads to comfort – resulting in a strong workforce.

3. Unity is key:
Remember that you’re the leader of your team and you must lead by example. Employees are going to look to you for the next step. By implementing plans, explaining to employees, and allowing them the courtesy to provide their input, you remind them that you are all facing this challenge together as a unified force.

4. Recognition:
Yes, we may be in a crisis but now is a great time to build stronger, more sustainable relationships with employees and reassure them that they are doing a great job, despite the circumstances. The simple act of sending a kindly-worded email could make all the difference in the future.

Many of the world’s greatest leaders faced periods of adversity as well, however, we must remember and reiterate to ourselves and one another is that, in times of great adversity, comes opportunity. This is a thought process that should be introduced and one which employees should harness during this difficult period. We are not immune to the things we cannot control; however, a person’s drive to push forward to the light at the end of the tunnel is what sets one man apart from the other. Our very own South African stalwart, Nelson Mandela, summed it up quite perfectly by stating:

“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”


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