July 2020
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Managing Employee Stress Through Transparency

Friday, July 10, 2020

As the pandemic drags on, employers are feeling a sense of urgency to combat growing levels of stress and support team members’ mental health needs. Experts agree employees appropriately dealing with a reasonable amount of stress in their jobs are more productive and more engaged than their counterparts who are handling stress poorly or who have become overwhelmed. But feeling supported by the company, by management, and by colleagues can go a long way toward increasing resiliency. The key is helping people manage uncertainty. “People tend to think about bad news as the stressor. Uncertainty is often as strong if not a stronger cause of stress that individual’s experience. And so, helping individuals manage uncertainty around COVID-19 and the pandemic is perhaps something that organizations can do,” Deniz Ones, an industrial and organizational psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, says. “Bad news is that some individuals will be laid off. OK. It is a terrible message to say that we’re waiting to see what we will do. It is better to say we are aware that if X happens, then we will lay off 5 percent of our labor force. If this happens, then we will lay off 10 percent of our labor force.” Hiding bad news will unnecessarily increase stress levels in the workplace. The difference is helping workers know what to expect, good or bad.

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