Ways to help and support employees
Q. How can I help employees experience more positive communication and less negativity with one another?
A. When employee interaction is not positive, you’ll discover that workplace communication in general is often the culprit.
Communication breakdown, a lack of information sharing, miscommunication, and unresolved tension often feed the negativity.
Do the following to improve employee communication: Beyond regular business matters, discuss the status of healthy communication among employees.
Actually make workplace communication a meeting agenda item, because it really is a business matter.
Ask, “Does anyone here have issues or concerns they would like to share or discuss regarding our communication with one another or within the organisation?”
“What about issues regarding our individual roles and duties? Is there anything there we need to discuss?”
“What about unresolved resource issues, needs, or concerns?”
Over time, you will witness less friction and less of a need to process these questions as positivity among employees returns.
Q. What more can supervisors do to improve the likelihood that an employee will make desired changes in behaviours or improve productivity without threatening the employee?
A. Supervisors usually know what they want changed or corrected, but just as important as what they want is “when” they want it.
Make sure your employee knows the specific date that you need to see changes by. Supervisors often omit the “when” from corrective interviews.
Think about your own life experience. What leads you to actually take the steps to accomplish a task, especially one you would rather delay?
Your energy to get moving, take action, and finish a task is often prompted by a deadline, which creates a sense of urgency. Feeling an urgent need to do something is linked to the deadline rather than to the value of the task itself. Start thinking “EAP referral” when this strategy of identifying “what” and “when” fails to help your employee make the changes you seek.
Q. One of the hardest things for me to do is admit my mistakes. I think perhaps it’s out of fear of being taken advantage of. I know it doesn’t win friends, but, beyond that, what’s the downside to not admitting my mistakes?
A. Contrary to what you might think, employees are attracted not so much to the smart and right supervisor but to the authentic supervisor.
You appear safer and more approachable to your employees if you are more real to them. This is what gives charismatic leaders their edge.
Their authenticity comes through.
When you model being your true self, you prompt others around you to do the same. They may no longer feel the need to stay as inhibited or afraid to show their vulnerable side or real selves.
Outside the home, having a work environment that facilitates and encourages authenticity is a valuable thing.
It is a luxury to feel unencumbered by the need to be defensive and protect ourselves from the larger world.
The more authentic you appear as a leader, the more your employees will want to be part of your inner circle rather than reject it. Admitting mistakes and being human is part of this authentic profile.
Q. What can or should supervisors do to support employees facing furloughs?A. Be sure to let employees know about the EAP to help them deal with the stress.
Employees will look to you for how to model their reaction to the furlough, so be both a good manager and a good leader by setting the expectation of endurance and positivity as much as possible.
Don’t be too quick to tell employees to look on the bright side, dismiss their concerns, or recommend they “start a hobby or catch up on medical appointments.”
Let employees know the EAP can offer support, such as counselling with one’s spouse or partner to help deal with problems encountered as a result of the furlough.
This could include support to manage fear and uncertainty, finding ways to replace income, saving money, budgeting, or identifying resources. Not doing so can lead to turnover, interrupted team effectiveness, and loss of productivity.
Q. I know EAPs can help employees improve job performance and address personal problems, but what are some of the less frequently discussed ways an organisation can benefit by referring employees to eaps?
A. The positive ripple effects of EAPs are numerous. Many EAPs can have life-saving benefits if they intervene with behavioural issues long before such issues become critical, as in the case of workplace violence.
EAPs can help supervisors improve supervision practices, prevent dismissals and turnover, and facilitate resolution of employee disputes with the organisation before they become difficult litigious problems.
EAP consulting may prevent an organisation from needing to hire expensive trainers.
They may assist in resolving co-worker conflicts, which improves productivity.
And they can boost the functionality of work teams or get drug-dependent workers to the right treatment the first time.
EAP activities may have an impact on reducing accidents, decreasing risk of employment practices liability, helping curtail dozens of counterproductive workplace behaviours, improving communication, and training employees in many types of soft skills.
Many of these benefits are difficult to measure, report on, or quantify, but they are ongoing.
This column was submitted by the EAP. If you need help contact EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) of Bermuda on 292-9000.