There’s a fun meme on the internet predicting a spike in babies 9 months from now. Personally, I am predicting that there will be both increased loyalty and huge attrition in organizations 9 months from now.
Leaders, how you treat your employees RIGHT NOW will impact how they do their jobs for years, possibly decades to come.
When my friend Sally was sick for many years with cancer, her husband Chris sat by her side at every doctor’s appointment. He was there for her chemo treatments and its effects. His boss told him to do what he could at work, but she understood that Chris’ first priority was his wife’s care. After Sally passed away, I recommended that Chris take a much needed vacation. He said, “I can’t. I will be filling in for my colleagues and working every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July for years to come. I owe it to them based on how they supported me. Now it’s my turn to help them with what they’re juggling.”
Leaders, managers, supervisors, bosses, whatever you are called, now is your time to shine. Show empathy and support.
It is simply impossible to care for young children or elderly parents AND work 8 hours. No amount of planning will allow your employees to function well on 3 hours of sleep, continuously. Be grateful and appreciative of the work your employees are performing virtually.
It’s Not Fair
Today in my city, municipal employees were mulching, yet the city’s senior center is closed. That means that the employees who can work are expected to work (perhaps with a hugely increased workload), and the employees whose jobs don’t allow them to work cannot. Is this fair? No. Let’s acknowledge that. There’s nothing fair about it. Is this how communities must respond? Yes. Our workplaces are communities and what we can and should expect is that each of our colleagues do as much as they safely can.
Some of my clients have an operating budget with money in reserves for one year. Others for only 6 weeks. Some companies are going to go out of business, and that is tragic. While your doors are open, assume your company is a lifeboat and everyone stays in. Remember that the morale you establish now will be your organization’s morale for years to come. Pay your core employees, and then try as hard as you can to find work for the rest. I know your organization might eventually run out of money, but when this is all over, you are still going to need to have a team and their morale will matter for years to come.
Assume the Best
It’s easy to make judgments. It’s even easier at times of stress to make accusations. Stop yourself and respectfully stop your friends. Trust that everyone is working to the very best of their abilities given the circumstances.
If you create a baby during this pandemic, that child will depend on you for at least 18 years. There will be joy and responsibility. Likewise the morale you create in the weeks and possibly months ahead will also be with you for years to come. When it comes to company culture, you are creating it whether you intend to or not. So, really focus on the type of culture you want to create.