Think Differently Or It's Falling Dominos, Mini Crisis Situation

Many well-meaning companies make their best efforts to provide EAPs and other resources to employees; however, without an understanding of conflict in general, your efforts can frustrate situations even more.

For example, one company had a media-worthy and well covered crisis. There were social posts that documented real life responses. We saw this and understood if the general public was experiencing this, what would internal employees feel? So we reached out. They were kind and cordial, but declined our olive branch. In the days following, they pushed out a "help and assistance" email that provided a link to some resources available to them. Their support included a great website that looked a bit like Yahoo!. Fun, right!? Problem was, their well meaning effort has caused a bit more stress. Ouch.

The resources are stellar... for a non-stressed, interested query. However, conflict tells us, when people are under stress, they think and process differently. People feeling stress are looking for answers, not for content heavy websites.

A Yahoo! style site requires an overload of non-stressful behaviors. For example, it needs the stressed to step back, think and decide what help would serve them best, make a best guess at the answer, and then comb through all the various search terms or tabs that might provide the answers. After this, it's reading time; reading pages of "potential" help that may or may not hit the nail on the head. If that first attempt fails, then they must rinse-n-repeat the process.

Stressed people do not respond in this manner most of the time. People building stress might think in "I want answers," types of thoughts. They need short sound bites of information, and words that mean "we're taking action," and action plans. If a company responds in auto-response services and email (without the support of a specialist), most will respond equally by ignoring it, but it won't go away. It becomes another stressor or it escalates again. It shows up in poorest companies to work reports, low internal reviews, unhappy workers, underperforming, taking advantage of a company. And these are behaviors that companies do not associate with the incident. 

Fast forward a couple weeks: Employees of this situation are speaking of frustration because they don't know who to go to while still protecting their job. They fear retaliation tactics if they speak to someone internal. Their EAP support, in their view, is "connected" to the company, which makes them untrusting of its source. Today, it's another notch in the worry belt that employees feel unheard about.

So, what can a company do to provide genuine support to their employees post crisis?

  • State in their email if an EAP program tracks or doesn't track website visits. If they do, what exactly does the company have access to? An added statement, "Visiting this website doesn't not track or report anything to your employer."
  • Contract with an outside contractor, like NMC, that can share what it might look like from a conflict perspective with potential alternatives that provide support.
  • Temporarily contract for outside conflict specialist services to glean information from employees to determine if there should be alternative resources or if the current resources are sufficient.
  • Always look for ways to do "one better" than the status quo. A simple statement through internal communications like, "We understand that this may cause additional worry for our members, but we are looking at ways to do it a little better for you. Give us 72-hours to share what our next steps will be." People deal much better knowing their is an action timeline, and many times this will be just enough to help them wait for support.




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