From the Blog

How to Support Your Managers in a Crisis

When it comes down to it, managers are largely responsible for the experience employees have at work, and it’s up to them to support employees. As your employees continue to face uncertainty, support is crucial — especially manager support in a crisis.

Manager support: the key to employee experience

Managers play a critical role in organizations. In fact, nearly all employees say their immediate managers matter the most for well-being support at work. When it comes to the employee experience, managers are key to showing authentic care and supporting the whole employee. While people are more likely to leave when they have a horrible boss, it’s important to also remember that bad managers are not the No. 1 reason people leave. 

Turnover can be caused by various factors like how much people enjoy their work, feel their strengths are utilized or if their role has a clear growth path. 

An internal analysis of the Limeade Well-Being Assessment revealed that the item, “my manager ‘looks out’ for me” was one of the statistically significant drivers of employees’ levels of engagement. 

Limeade Manager POV - How to Support Your Managers in a Crisis

Consider the whole employee 

Whole-person well-being is about getting to know employees on a deeper level by not only supporting their well-being at work, but also their life outside of work. What happens in one part of a person’s life impacts all others. At its core, well-being is feeling good and living with purpose, but whole-person well-being — physical, emotional, financial and work well-being — values the whole person. 

During difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for whole-person employee support is more clear than ever. From working parents juggling the needs of family at home to navigating the new remote workforce, employees require meaningful and authentic crisis leadership. In order to achieve that, it’s up to companies to arm managers and leaders with the proper care, tools and resources to support their employees or direct reports as best possible.  

3 ways organizations can offer manager support in a crisis  

During stable times, managers regularly experience work stressors that can lead to burnout. While managers might appear highly engaged, they are also at risk for burnout because it’s not possible to sustain high levels of engagement over time. Unrealistic expectations, relationship building, tasks and job demands can push managers over the edge. In order for managers to care for their employees, the organization must care for managers. 

  1. Clarify goals and expectations. It can be difficult to determine and interpret goals as they’re passed down from CEO to managers to employees. Too many workplace tools overwhelm employees. And many goals have shifted or been updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Support managers in clarifying and setting goals and expectations by providing technology to keep track of organizational goals and conversations.  
  2. Offer manager self-care opportunities. While all employees need support, managers need to care for themselves first so that they can, in turn, care for others well. It’s crucial for organizations to invest in an intentional culture of manager support that strongly encourages, enables and expects manager self-care. By example, this will instill healthier self-care in employees.  
  3. Provide the right resources. Enable managers to support employees by providing tools such as an employee experience platform. Frequent one-on-one meetings are a great way to initiate dedicated time between managers and employees to identify roadblocks and navigate workload. Consider increasing informal check-ins with managers and employees to keep a pulse on their emotional well-being. Invest in tools and technology that can help foster trust, inclusion and social recognition for managers to act as role models for employees.

How managers can help themselves

  1. Learn how to say no. Incoming requests and asks — both inside and out of the office — can quickly fill managers’ schedules and consume their time. As a manager, avoid unnecessary activities by preparing tactful ways to say “no,” especially when crisis leadership is paramount. Suggest other individuals who can accomplish the task, explain where the task falls on the list of priorities or discuss how one project might delay or impact the results of another.  
  2. Allow for recovery time. When managers build in recovery time such as sick days or PTO, it encourages members or their team to do the same. Recovery from demands can include blocked focus time on calendars, personal days to recharge or even small breaks throughout the day to reset and refocus on the work ahead. Managers should openly communicate with employees regarding their schedule and when they’re taking personal/sick days. With more time spent at home, it’s easy to continue with work after the day is over. Set boundaries and guidelines for the workday to make sure time is set aside to recover. 
  3. Stick to a schedule. It’s important for managers to hold themselves accountable for their workload, but it’s also just as important to consider boundaries and promote whole-person well-being. As a manager, don’t just make a plan, stick to it. Managers who hold themselves accountable set the tone for what is acceptable and encouraged within the organization and their team. As a manager, refrain from sending emails outside of regular office hours or over PTO — and stick to this schedule through changing work schedules such as a remote office. 

3 things employees can do

  1. Set and clarify expectations. For managers to provide support, they first need to understand what’s desired and required of them. And when employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38% more engaged. It’s important for employees to communicate their expectations when it comes to manager support and goal clarity. 
  2. Provide and receive quality feedback. Make feedback a priority. It can be most influential during trying times and an important part of manager support in a crisis. Utilize company-wide surveys or anonymous feedback platforms to receive consistent feedback. 
  3. Respect their time. While consistent manager and employee communication is necessary, it’s also important to be mindful of managers’ time and well-being. Encourage employees to challenge themselves to take risks and problem solve on their own by reaching out to other individual contributors. Managers who support employee learning and growth show they care. 

Managers play many different roles to meet diverse demands. And it’s critical to provide manager support in a crisis to ensure a positive, consistent employee experience.

Visit our Care in Crisis Resource Center to access our latest resources available to help your company and employees stay safe and connected.