Crisis Situations – How Supervisors Can Help Employee

With the recent tragedy of the bombing in Boston, MA, many people may feel indirectly or directly impacted by this event. All across our country, employees may be experiencing terrible sadness and heartbreak for what has happened. Managers and supervisors play a critical role during these times.

This tip sheet provides leaders with helpful tips that can help manage, motivate and lead their employees during a difficult time. It can also serve as a blueprint of what leaders should do in the event of a future crisis.

  • Address fears and anxiety quickly. Managers who act quickly to provide a supportive workplace might see higher morale, lower absenteeism and a higher level of employee productivity within the team. In crisis situations, people commonly express concerns over their safety, their family, their friends, and job security. Managers who acknowledge employee concerns are more likely to gain respect and confidence from their employees.
  • Expect a temporary drop in performance and productivity. As a manager, you should understand that in times of crisis, it’s normal for employees to be under stress, have difficulty concentrating and have trouble completing regular job assignments. You should express concern, and be willing to help employees with daily tasks. Managers should be aware that getting back to “business as usual” as quickly as possible could do more harm than good. Burying emotions by staying busy only postpones dealing with challenging issues and may, in fact, allow problems time to grow.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. An important aspect of workplace healing is to meet with staff members early and often to allow employees to talk about their concerns. Managers can also use this time to promote available resources and other services. Managers may find that the more employees talk, the faster the organization will recover.
  • Be calm and confident. In times of crisis, a strong and positive leadership style is important. Managers should try their best to put aside their own personal fears and feelings, and maintain a calm and confident appearance in front of employees.
  • Help those with the highest needs first. Managers shouldn’t make assumptions as to how their employees are dealing with any tragic situation. Find out what your behavioral health program can offer to employees and explain to employees how they can access it if needed. Some employees might have personal experiences that could be triggered by this event. Address sensitivity needs right away and provides tools and resources for those employees.
  • Allow people to display their emotions. Because people show their emotions in different ways, managers in tune with their employees should allow them to display flags, mementos and other forms of patriotism in their work areas. Managers should let employees know that it is ok to cry and that anger towards the situation is a natural part of acceptance and recovery.
  • Limit negative behavior. Even though anger is a natural reaction to a tragic event, managers needed to make sure that the workplace remains safe and free from violence.

Source: NOAA: