Many leaders today are lagging in creating an environment where every employee does their best work. Employees are left in the dark by their organization and organizations are not in tune with employee concerns. But fear not because there are clear actions organizations can take to stabilize employee hopes and concerns.

Many people are out of work today, furloughed, laid off, or through job elimination. The absence of work will drive these people to seek new roles as the basics around job safety and predictability have been removed. The anxiety of unemployment, the inability to put food on their kid’s table, and the loss of social and occupational purpose is exhausting. And these people are tired.

Essential employees continue to work. Grocery items are shelved, ICU wards are staffed, teachers electronically connect with learners, police patrol the streets, and farmers tend crops. Schedules are extended with people working longer and different hours, security and safety is compromised absent of protective gear and concerns of transferring illness to others, and anxiety weighs heavy. And these people are tired.

While my empathy naturally hosts those essential workers and those laid off, a few experiences this weekend remind me to consider everyone else still working. They are also doing their best to accomplish the work that need to be done, they are genuinely trying to make this virus situation work for their companies and themselves, and they are anxious about their roles – tiredly awaiting leadership from the employer. These people are also taking risks, hopeful their employer will do the same. And these people are tired.

Companies need to take the risk and offer leadership. Collect information from employees on their impressions. Listen and understand their hopes and concerns. If work from home can work, relax your legacy command and control issues. Listen to what the employee’s say and let them know you heard them by doing something about their hopes and concerns.

Over the past several weeks companies have demanded employee flexibility. Now it is time for companies to demonstrate that same flexibility and create the conditions wherein all can do their best work. Relax your control, figure out how to manage a remote workforce, figure out how to adjust schedules, consider a workforce is most productive when free from fear. In the absence of safety and predictability, employees will leave. It really is all very predictable.

Companies have a choice if they want to have the necessary workforce to do the work that needs to be done (during and post-pandemic). Some good choices include:

  • Demonstrate flexibility with policies, procedures, and legacy control concerns regarding remote working.
  • Be more open and honest with employee hopes and concerns
  • Communicate the company’s understanding and action plans

Companies have a choice. Absent safety, connectivity, and purpose, employees will find employment opportunity elsewhere. Employees will have options and will execute those options based on employer treatment. Bank on it.