Creating harmony in work/life balance can be challenging under normal circumstances. However, when another external layer out of your control is added, such as socioeconomic issues, civil unrest or political uprisings, this can cause stress levels to increase exponentially. In turn, entrepreneurs, business owners and team members can be deterred by the uncertainty that comes with such situations.

During challenging times, company owners and their teams typically record lower productivity rates, which translate into financial costs. Alongside crisis management strategies that need to be adapted and put into place, there are many steps that business owners and managers can take, to ensure potential losses are kept at bay and risks are mitigated.

1. Keep conversations light and positive

When challenges are mounting outside the office, it is normal for team members to bring their personal concerns with them to the office. Accordingly, set up office rules to ensure a proper balance is maintained at work and that negative comments or criticisms are not shared to disrupt working life. Team members should feel that they are able to express themselves, but encourage them to do so in a respectable and considerate way. Business owners and managers should set the example and continue to remind team members through different mediums.

2. Create an open and safe environment with meetings

During turbulent times, uncertainty over the future of the company and the fate of team members can surface. Top talent can also underperform or decide to leave. To contribute to a healthier working environment, conduct weekly (or even daily) meetings to ensure employees that all measures are being taken to safeguard the company and its team’s future. Address priority tasks that need to be carried out. Also, allow team members to ask questions, to create an open and safe environment.

3. Develop and deploy business continuity plans

Business continuity plans should be put in place, before any crisis situation unfolds. Team members need to be trained on the actions to be taken in force majeure situations. However, when a crisis does hit, firstly update business continuity plans in light of the current situation, and then communicate it actively with team members. If an employee cannot get to work or chooses to work remotely, ensure access to needed files, servers and provide support, to not disrupt the workflow. Each team member needs to realize and understand their important contribution to the company’s overall operations.

4. Take time to recharge and disconnect

Staying abreast with the latest news and being connected to social media at all times, can lead higher stress levels, and in turn, burnout. Company owners, managers and team members need to be reminded to take time off to recharge and disconnect from their phones. Encourage team members to engage in hobbies or activities outside the office that they enjoy, such as reading, sports, music etc.

5. Create a corporate wellness program

The importance of mental health is dominating global conversations. During volatile times, the importance of mental health should be on the top of the agenda. Establish long-term policies to promote wellness and positivity in the workplace. Managers can also be trained to navigate situations when team members need the additional support. Wellness newsletters, covering self-care, healthier diets, exercise and so on, can also be created to support the team.

6. Brainstorm with the team

External situations can disrupt business activities and slow down the typical pace at work. However, that is not always a bad thing, if it is properly utilized. Use the downtime to your advantage, to brainstorm with team members on new projects, enhance internal processes, or create creative cells, to share ideas to help grow the business.

Business owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), should create a crisis management plan that is continually updated. To uncover the 10 step process, read on here.