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Empathy Imperative: How to Keep Empathy Top of Mind During a Crisis

Empathy Imperative: How to Keep Empathy Top of Mind During a Crisis
Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2020 by Jon Shanahan
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In the midst of COVID-19, we are all adjusting to a new normal.

woman-at-home-As global citizens, we’re united in our resolve to see the other side of this pandemic, but it’s also becoming increasingly clear that each individual faces their own unique challenges in crafting a new lifestyle for the foreseeable future.

During these complicated times, as trust in government falters, businesses are being asked to take the lead on an effective response. For business leaders, crafting a competent response to this workplace issue requires more than operational know-how alone—we must approach this moment with the proper tone and understanding.

At Businessolver, we lead with empathy at all times—whether it’s a typical day or during a crisis—and empathy is the strategic lens we invite leaders to look through as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis. It’s impossible to predict what businesses, leaders, and employees will face in the coming months, but the need for empathy will never change.

Here are four considerations to keep in mind as you develop your response to your employees:

  1. Everyone’s time usage has changed. Until recently, employees’ time allocation was a key variable in profitability calculations. Understanding daily start times and end times, commute lengths, lunch breaks, and productivity while at work are all factored in. Now, that equation has been turned on its head. For businesses functioning remotely, employees may be saving time by, say, not commuting, but that doesn’t mean they’re available at all times. Giving employees time to take personal breaks, go on walks, or tend to children while schools are closed are basic expressions of empathy. For businesses working with leaner in-person operations, the time is now to offer grace with scheduling or personnel shortages.
  2. Accurate information is imperative. Business leaders, out of everyone in their organizations, must be the most informed on the latest COVID-19 news. It’s through your direction and communications that employees will learn how to approach the situation at hand, armed with accurate information and thoughtfulness. Ensure that as a leader, you’re tracking with the daily developments of the crisis through regular updates from federal and local officials. For employees, timely information delivered with confidence can go a long way to ease anxieties and centralize their sources of information.
  3. Communication has never been more key. Now is the absolute best time to remind employees of everything your business does to protect their current and future well-being, on every level. Now more than ever, folks are seeking the details of their medical plans, savings or retirement plans, and options for paid sick leave and time off. We encourage you to devise a communications strategy that makes your benefits details easily available and clear to understand. In times like these, even a simple email campaign will suffice.
  4. Keep mental well-being top of mind. Empathy, ultimately, is a practice based in human emotion and at times of crisis, those emotions may be high. Don’t forget that even before times of crisis, your employees faced their work and personal lives with varying levels of mental wellness. We recommend highlighting the resources available for mental health telemedicine and sending regular check-in emails to employees. Showing empathy at times of crisis may mean taking on practices that you wouldn’t normally adopt as a leader, but showing that flexibility will go a long way toward building a strong workplace once normal life returns.

Read Businessolver’s ongoing coverage of COVID-19.

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