Crisis. It’s a word connected to what some people are experiencing in tandem with the pandemic. It’s also a word connected to what managers and our employees, as humans, experience in the workplace during our careers. As managers, how do we assist our employees through a crisis? Depending on the situation, there are a few different approaches you can try.

If your company experiences layoffs, furloughs, or any similar corporate crisis, the best thing to do si communicate openly and honestly with your employees. Visit with your staff every couple of days to ensure you are keeping them in the loop as much as possible and to answer their questions and address their concern. If you do not know the answers to their questions, it’s OK to state that. During a recent crisis, our CEO prepared videos at least twice a week that were informative and encouraging. Employee response to these videos was overwhelmingly positive.

An employee’s individual crisis requires a different approach. While it may sound harsh, particularly for those of us in smaller companies, you must remain the boss and not blur the line between boss and friend. Your responsibility to be supportive remains, but so does the employee’s responsibility to perform their duties.

Balancing employees’ well-being and performance is part of our job. Be willing to consider creative solutions. Is it possible to give the employee time off to deal with the crisis? Can they leave early a day or two each week while it settles down? Making up time could be an option of the employee is not making continuous mistakes.

Set clear expectations and boundaries for the employee and establish an expected time away from the office. Each detail you can cover ahead of time results in less stress for the employees, the team, and yourself.

If you need to ask other employees to step up and cover duties, share with the team that the employee is dealing with an unnamed crisis. You don’t need to go into details about the employee’s personal troubles. Tell the rest of the team how much you appreciate their willingness to assist.

A crisis of either type should increase the importance of “management by walking around.” Taking 10 minutes per day to walk through the office and visit with your team will be reassuring. One last note: even in times of trouble, people benefit from a dose of levity. Plan some silly recognition efforts, snacks, or a “Fun Friday” to help boost morale and keep your team strong.