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The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation and, as with any company crisis, employees are looking to their leaders for support, compassion and reassurance. One major roadblock: there isn’t a clear road ahead. To help executives navigate these turbulent times and comfort their workforce, Accenture recently shared a study exploring what workers need most from leaders right now. Below are some of its key findings:  

Build Trust With Your Employees

Employee needs fall into three basic categories: physical, mental and relational. By addressing these in the following order, executives will be better positioned to earn their trust: 

First, fulfill employees’ physical needs by delivering transparent company updates that provide operational guidance and empowering staff to do what’s necessary to protect their health and well-being. Then, address their mental requirements, allowing them to adapt their work schedules to fit personal ones in this new reality. Lastly, meet their relational ones by making sure employees feel connected to each other and to their workplace. 

Reiterate Your Company’s Purpose and Values

In this era of quarantines and social distancing, everyone is longing for connection. Reminding your workforce of what a company stands for can help to give them a sense of belonging. 

Get Organized and Stay Informed

In any crisis, it’s important to immediately develop a company-wide solution and plan of action (in this case, it will likely require multiple meetings to address new developments). When carrying out these plans, assign different roles to every member of your leadership team so every aspect of your business is covered. Throughout the plan’s implementation, gather employee feedback from all areas of the organization. Use the information gathered from across the organization to inform management decisions and workforce engagement. 

Bring Compassionate and Caring Leaders to the Forefront

Workforces will remember executives who took an active role in responding to a crisis. Be sure leaders that step up have what it takes to be empathetic and team-oriented. This way, when the emergency subsides, they’ll have an even greater appreciation for—and loyalty to—those who fought for them throughout the period of intense disruption. 

Invest in Remote Work Capabilities

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Accenture workforce research showed that less than one-third of all workers were able to make full use of their technology to effectively do their job. This crisis revealed who had already invested in these initiatives, and who did not. If your organization falls into the latter group, now is the time to act. Since we’re still not sure how long this crisis will last, it’s imperative to accelerate your company’s digital initiatives now. 

Communicate a Story, Not Data Points 

During times of confusion and uncertainty, people generally don’t take comfort in data. Instead, impart meaning—and relief—with stories and analogies that hit close to home. Aim to help employees better understand executive decisions and workforce circumstances. 

Don’t Let Your Future Growth Strategies Stagnate 

It may sound difficult, or like you’re ignoring what’s urgent, but try to make time to focus on getting your organization ready for the future. Even dedicating two hours every day will keep your organization healthy and your workforce hopeful for what lies ahead.