How do you approach employee engagement when nobody is in the mood?
The news recently is filled with distressing and downright heartbreaking stories, some close to home and some far away. Bad news seems endless, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza to the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the drinking water emergency in northwestern Ohio — plus ongoing economic worries.
Reading and hearing about so much suffering can have a profound effect on our collective psyche and put us in a negative mood, even when we aren’t personally touched by a crisis.
“We’re facing a situation I’ve always feared — things might actually be as bad as we make them sound on cable news,” Stephen Colbert quipped last week. The Comedy Central star coped with the onslaught of depressing news by pouring himself progressively stiffer drinks until he was throwing down whiskey like apple juice. The segment ended with him chugging rubbing alcohol as the audience cheered him on.
Back in real life, though, how do we cope? We need open, authentic communication, trust and a little extra TLC to go around. Whether the crisis is immediate and personal or simply a case of bad-news fatigue, set a positive example for employee engagement in your workplace by inspiring everyone to look out for each other (and themselves).
“In good times, employee engagement is the difference between being good and being great,” James K. Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing, told the Gallup Business Journal. “In bad times, it’s the difference between surviving and not.”
Let’s take a closer look at how to survive —and even thrive — in times of crisis.
Open, authentic communication
Faking a good mood until you feel better is a tried and true trick for getting out of a funk. But it has its limits. When we’re feeling down or angry, sugar-coating or masking our feelings can be exhausting. Instead, authenticity and opening up to others often makes us feel better, and offers a chance to connect with others beyond a superficial level.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has good advice for the steps you can take to increase the authenticity of your communication — particularly in how we share our “truth” and how we choose to convey failings.
Engagement is in fact one of the top response behaviors toward building trust, according to an Entrepreneur infographic on step-by-step trust-building. In practice, this means not shutting people down or discounting their views, but instead inviting them to open up.
Simply listening, without judgment and without waiting to insert our opinion, can be a powerful tool toward transformation — and healing. For more on listening as a tool of transformation, check out our recent post on the topic.
A little extra TLC
Sometimes we all just need to give ourselves and each other a break. Promote and model “self-care” to employees. To get you started, PsychCentral has “3 Self-Care Strategies to Transform Your Life.”
When discussing self-care with employees, it’s important to stress that self-care isn’t selfish. In fact, the exact opposite is true: when we take better care of ourselves and pay attention to our own needs, we’re exponentially growing our ability to pay attention to and help others. What is selfish? Stressing everyone out around us with the inevitable fallout when we ignore our own needs.
And don’t forget to show appreciation
Even in the midst of crisis or a collective “slump,” words of appreciation have special power to inspire and motivate. Say “thank you” more than usual. Compliment on a project well done. Don’t be shy in dishing out praise or encouragement. Sometimes all it takes to bring us out of a funk is a smile or an unexpected kind word.
For more on building a culture of trust and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.
Click the image below and start sharing your workplace gratitude today!
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