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How to overcome job insecurity in your teams at times of uncertainty

Over 730,000 people in the UK have lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic this year. In addition, many people who remain in work or on furlough are anxious about future redundancies. Over 60 per cent doubt the long-term security of their role. With figures like these, it is important for CEOs and managers to address potential issues within the workplace. Researchers have found that job insecurity can affect peoples’ dependability, emotional stability and agreeableness – causing them to react differently to colleagues and everyday tasks. If you’re leading a team, you may consider the following suggestions.

Strengthen senior-level decision-making
During times of change, it’s important that every person in your company understands decisions made by senior management. If guidance is given which doesn’t translate to those in mid-level or junior positions, this will heighten feelings of insecurity. Try to avoid a situation where employees hear about developments before they are communicated officially, or even set in stone. Covid-19 is an exceptionally busy time for CEOs, who may find it hard to schedule in meetings to collaborate with management teams. However, doing this will strengthen decision-making and communication. Line managers who have been consulted from the start will feel confident about briefing their teams.

Communicate with honesty
Employees will be looking to CEOs and managers to provide reassurance during Covid-19. If there are uncertainties ahead, it can be tempting to gloss over this rather than risk worrying people unnecessarily. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this approach. It’s likely that your colleagues will recognise attempts to put a positive spin on things, so be honest about the current situation and acknowledge those areas you don’t have an answer to yet. Try to speak openly about potential difficulties and make it clear how people can give feedback. Finally, commit to regular updates in order to build an atmosphere of mutual trust.

Understand how people react to change
In a survey conducted by the charity Mind, over 50 per cent of adult respondents said they’d experienced a decline in their mental health during the first Covid-19 lockdown. This year especially, CEOs and managers have a duty of care to look after the wellbeing of employees. So, try taking a step back, to consider peoples’ varying reactions to the current pandemic. This will help you to empathise and respond appropriately. While some team members may feel paralysed by anxiety, others will work harder than before – risking burnout. If you can demonstrate compassion, by understanding individual situations, your team are more likely to trust you to lead them through challenging times.

Look for ways to continue motivating employees
Restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic may make it hard to motivate employees in the usual way. To give one example, team get togethers or away days have been difficult to arrange in 2020. So, think about other alternatives, such as a thank you card sent to an employee working at home acknowledging how they’ve gone above and beyond. Psychologists Anne Brafford and Richard Ryan suggest that companies should foster a sense of belonging – by making employees feel cared for and showing people that their contribution is valued. Recognising and rewarding good work will mean that team members working remotely still feel their efforts are noticed.

In a year that has been anything but ordinary, business leaders will have many extra challenges to consider. While it may be tempting to focus on external factors, seeing these as the biggest threat, CEOs and managers must keep an eye on internal matters - including any stresses and feelings of insecurity within their own teams. Providing this human touch will allow you, your company, and your employees to weather any storms ahead.