Organizations often will implement a hiring freeze to cut costs and avoid layoffs during economic downturns, but this strategy can create damage -- bruised morale, poor performance -- in the long run, says Brian Formato, CEO and principal at Groove Management. A headcount freeze is a more effective option, allowing companies to maintain full-time staff numbers, recruit for top talent and eliminate low performers.
You can't control external events, but you can control your mindset, how you engage with people and how focused you are. "When the chaos of uncertainty hits, leaders have a responsibility to even out the tone by being a voice of reason and not adding to the blame narrative," writes Marlene Chism.
Ghostwriter and speechwriter Claire Rudy Foster says being able to mimic people's voice and tone helps them deliver prepared remarks confidently -- and has even created real change through legislation and other actions. One such speech for a Winston Churchill-themed event "worked because I stopped trying to write a speech and started imitating the best version of" the client.
Be consistent in the frequency in which internal communications discuss the coronavirus, and don't forget to continue talking about organizational values and ongoing business priorities, writes Rachel Miller. "Review your channels matrix and determine where the gaps are if your people's working patterns or locations have changed," she adds.
Isolation isn't always a choice, as we hear from people including journalist Charles Glass, who was once held hostage by Hezbollah, and British astronaut Helen Sharman, who spent time on the Mir space station. "It's so important to keep talking about those things openly, and in a calm way, rather than let them build up," Sharman says.
Scientific illustrations are serious business, but sometimes the drawings themselves are lighthearted, such as a depiction of the visual field of walruses that makes it appear they have beams coming from their eyes or the use of a giant space fish to depict the collapse of a star, writes Michelle Starr.
To avoid layoffs, companies can use work sharing programs that would reduce the hours of employees but keep them on payroll. Through work sharing, companies would save the same money they would through layoffs, while employees would keep their benefits and set up the national workforce for when the economy gets returns to normal, according to Sharon Block and Terri Gerstein.
A leader's optimism and confidence can calm the rest of the team, but it isn't always enough to support all employees, writes Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. A leader's competence and skills are the most important factor in a team's well-being, and should be prioritized during a crisis, despite what might be more comforting for workers.
Prepare leaders for a crisis by making sure leadership expectations are clear when people are hired and development programs focus on relevant skills, writes Duc V. Trang, managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa. "By understanding how good leadership -- at its core -- essentially is the same during moments of crisis or during periods of business as usual, organizations and companies can make better decisions on whom they hire and how to train current and future leaders," Trang writes.
Tax Analysts chief economist Martin Sullivan estimates the federal government will directly subsidize more than half of the US workforce. As much as 60% of that subsidy will come to workers through their employers, according to the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed last month.
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