Q: “I am concerned about the well-being and morale of my employees working remotely. At the same time, I want to respect their privacy as I am sure many are experiencing some degree of stress and anxiety. I’m not sure this is a question for my law firm, but I am also treading carefully these days with employees, compliance and rules.”
May 7, 2020
It’s not easy. First and foremost, it’s important to establish trust through consistent open and honest communications. In most cases, your employees have already gone to the worst-case scenario and are reading the papers and watching the news, just like you. They will know if you are not being transparent. For most people, this is a life-defining event over which they have no control, and, to the extent you can make them part of the process, it is both the professional and humane thing to do. Recognize and accept that your priorities right now (maintaining revenue, productivity, etc.) may not be the same priorities (in the same order) as someone who is home-schooling their children and concerned about the personal well-being of themselves and their families. That said, you are still running a business and are entitled to have your realistic expectations met while continuing to provide compensation and benefits to your employees.
Maintaining a resilient organization that can prosper from adversity is, of course, easier to do if the organization already had a culture of resilience, accountability and adaptability. But even if it didn’t, and you know who you are, there is no better time to create and enhance your company’s culture than in a time of crisis. Some suggestions include the following: maintain a consistent method of checking in with every employee or team leader – not just about what they are doing but how they are feeling; don’t make every communication or email about work; make sure your employees “work at home experience” is as easy as possible; invest in good video conferencing systems; make sure they have printers and paper and ink; designate someone who understands technology to be “on call” to help employees as needed; have individual conversations with employees about their schedules – some people may need to work different hours or different days depending on their obligations at home; and provide your employees with the resources they may not know exist to help them emotionally manage and navigate this new experience.
You’re right; most clients don’t come to a law firm for advice on employee morale, but we are also a business and happy to share the tools that we accessed during this time. Please use this link to access a collection of articles and resources that we found most valuable.
Gary I. Blackman, is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Group and the firm’s General Counsel. Gary is a leader in promoting the business case for mindfulness in the workplace and the empowering and liberating effect of transparency and honesty, not only to improve risk management but to reduce stress, increase resiliency and enhance our personal and professional lives.