Let’s Get Real: Supporting Your Team During a Crisis

We’re all feeling some anxiety right now. Between the threat of getting sick, the economic impact and the social isolation, it’s no surprise that we’re uneasy.

We’re all feeling some anxiety right now. Between the threat of getting sick, the economic impact and the social isolation, it’s no surprise that we’re uneasy.

In times of uncertainty, the success of a team is measured not only by its ability to get the job done, but also how well it supports the sum of its parts. As we navigate the logistical impact of the crisis on our businesses, it’s imperative to address the emotional toll on your staff as well.  

Turn Off Work Mode

While it can be difficult to put the brakes on during a crisis (especially in PR), it’s necessary to maintain balance and avoid burnout. Be intentional about finding time to meet and talk about anything that isn’t the job.

At FrazierHeiby, we’ve set aside thirty minutes every week to regroup. Aptly named Joey Time, the Friends-inspired get together allows us to ask a very important question: “How you doin’?” Even when it’s virtual, face-to-face communication is great, so we use Google Hangouts to stay connected while working from home. Sometimes discussions start with a prompt and other days we just talk it out. No matter the format, the intent is to remind ourselves that we will succeed through this together.

Giving your colleagues the permission to step out of their work shoes is a gentle reminder to reach out with personal concerns when needed.

Encourage Vulnerability

Even if they want to ask for help, it can be difficult in a professional setting. Help your teammates take the first step by setting an example. Share one of your fears — chances are, you’re not the only person experiencing it. Then offer concrete tools your team can use to continue sharing and reflecting. These could include:

  • Arranging a group discussion and asking your teammates specific questions about how the outbreak has affected them
  • Sharing a list of questions to consider following the discussion to guide self-reflection
  • Developing an anonymous Q&A platform
  • Creating a writing template your teammates can use to reach out to others with whom they are close or feel may need extra support
  • Put together a running list of books and articles that have offer perspective on the spiritual impact of the crisis

Lighten the Mood

Vulnerability means talking about the tough stuff, but it’s important to stay positive, too. We’ve kept things light at FrazierHeiby by curating a work-from-home self-care checklist, providing all employees with GrubHub gift cards, and hosting a virtual happy hour. Remind your staff that it’s okay to feel nervous or anxious, but that they can rest easy knowing there’s a rock star team behind them every step of the way.

  • Consider using Slack or another two-way communications channel to share uplifting content.
  • Present creative prompts that encourage staff to share more about their personal lives.
  • Invite your team to a group yoga class.
  • Arrange an online talent show for your team to participate in.

This crisis has impacted each of us significantly and its weight can be a heavy burden to bear on our own. While it may be intimidating to open up about our fears and anxieties, it will only strengthen the trust that your team is built on. If there has ever been a time to support your teammates beyond their to-do lists, it’s right now.