…in managing workers’ anxiety
For organisations to effectively manage the anxieties of their staff, coming from fear of losing their jobs or dealing with salary cuts and other inconvenient situations emanating from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, open and honest communication, as well as responsible leadership are key, human resource experts say.
The experts, who shared their views on a webinar in Accra organised by the Business and Financial Times (B&FT) under the theme: ‘Managing an anxious work force during and post COVID-19’, advocate that this is the right time for employers to show real leadership which will earn them the trust of their employees. When good leadership is shown, they agreed, employers will stay committed to the organisation and give their best as they will feel a natural sense of gratitude to the company.
One of the panelists, Hannah Ashiokai Akrong, Director of Human Resource, Vodafone Ghana, said these pandemic times present an opportunity for employers to demonstrate responsibility and compassion for their workers in the way they handle lay-offs, salary cuts, and other measures that affect their livelihoods or incomes.
“As the leadership of an organisation, you have to be responsible in whatever decision you take this time. If potentially, you see you are going to lay people off, then this is not the time to get a brand-new car for the CEO or other things that are so glaring for employees to think that you are not focusing on them. It is very important that you get these things right from the beginning.
And at the point where you want to lay people off, be guided by the laws and ensure that you are exiting people with decency and communicated all their benefits to them; and you have also communicated what other ways that you can bring them back to the organization when things are fine.
If you can see that in the next month or two you are going to lay staff off, what are some of the things that you can put in place to help retrain, rescale of upscale employees so that when it gets to that point, at least, they have something to fall back on. We have to be responsible,” she said.
Another panelist, Roland Baah Teye, Associate Director, Consulting at Deloitte Ghana, emphasised on how important it is for employers to be open and honest with their staff, as letting them know the real situation of the company will help them accept whatever decision that the company puts forward, even if it will affect them negatively.
“I think open communication and honest communication is very important. It requires the organisation to be very transparent with the employees and, where possible, even share the organisation’s performance. The reason is that it gives employees a sense of belonging and allow them to appreciate whenever you come back later to tell them the business is not doing well,” he said.
He further stated that both employers and employees should be innovative so that the pandemic’s impact does not leave them irrelevant in the market or on the job.
“Organisations also have to be innovative and develop and come out with new products that will still keep employees working for the company. And for employees, they also need to retool and retrain. If you can train and become something else that makes you more relevant, please do,” he said.
Then, still commenting on reducing employees’ anxiety, Dr. Hazel Berrard Amuah, a human resource and leadership expert, also stressed on the importance of communication from the top level, especially, in difficult times, as a lack of it will affect workers’ performance on the job
“When people are informed, their attitude towards situations change. When we live in ignorance we easily panic. So if employers are constantly engaging employees from a well-informed position, giving updates on the business performance, and helping employees to self-protect – which is their core duty per the labour law, and also showing care throughout the pandemic for as long as it lasts, it helps employees to become less anxious and more productive because they work for organisations which truly cares for them and seek for their wellbeing,” she said.