• Evelyn Pollard

Connection and Communication – the key to everyone’s wellbeing


Our world as we know it is changing and, as business owners/leaders, we are finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory each day.

Many business owners/leaders are sharing that they are beginning to question their behaviour and decisions as the fall out of letting staff go starts to be realised. This is closely followed by the question of whether they could have done things differently.

Before we start going down the path of ‘guilt’, it is important to keep in mind that we are all dealing with very challenging times, both from a health and economic perspective. As a result, we all process the information we receive in different ways and at different times.

Therefore, it is important that we take a moment to pause and consider what is happening on a personal level for both ourselves and our staff.

We are all grieving – you, your staff, your suppliers, your customers, and your family and friends. We are in flight or fight mode at the moment.

The speed of how the situation has evolved has caught many of us by surprise and as a result, we have not had time to take a breath and consider what is happening for each of us.

Stages of Grief

When something negative or challenging happens in our lives, we go through several stages including:

· Denial

· Anger

· Bargaining

· Depression

· Acceptance

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler have written a number of articles and books on the stages of grief including what are the ‘best and worst things to say’ to people as they navigate their grief. I would encourage you to have a read as this will provide you with some valuable information and tools in supporting your staff.

Your own wellbeing

Before you can take care of anyone else, you first need to ensure that you are looking after yourself. The saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup” is so true in these times. If you do not look after yourself, then you will not be able to help those around you, including your staff.

Many business owners/leaders that I have spoken to have found benefit in:

· Connecting and having a chat with someone you trust.

· Going for a walk (practicing social/physical distancing).

· Taking time out to read that book you have always wanted to read.

· Chatting via Skype/Zoom/Facetime with your family and friends.

· Switching off from social media for a day.

The key is to pause and take a moment to look after yourself, including availing yourself of the support services that are available.

Connecting with your staff

Where you have had the difficult task of letting staff go, it is important to try and stay connected with them. This can be through a few channels including:

· Setting up a closed group through social media.

· Through a communication/newsletter (or similar) sent out through your HR/Payroll system or via email.

· An SMS.

· Scheduling in a virtual catch-up.

Staying in touch with your staff, to check in and see how they are going, and to share how you are going are key to building a positive workplace. In doing so, be mindful of using language that reflects compliance. Try and find another ways of sharing news that is "compliance" driven. For example 'we value your health and wellbeing and are keen to .....' or '....look after yourelf first and we can work the details out when you return.....', or '...... that has not been our usual approach, can you please share how we can make this work in line with our current policy .....', etc

As your staff progress through to the ‘acceptance’ phase, you may find that they are more open to exploring innovative solutions. Connecting and communicating with your staff also provides you with the ability to share the outcomes of the potential solutions that you have explored.


Again, use encouraging language that engenders care and connection, ask lots of questions and allow the staff member to come up with a solution.

Caring for your staff

The compassion and care you show to your staff, through asking them if they are okay and reminding them of the support that is available to them, will be invaluable.

There are many agencies out there to support each and everyone one of us during this period, including:

· Beyond Blue

· Black Dog Institute

· Lifeline

· Headspace

As we come out on the ‘other side’ of this, or any other adverse situation, your staff will remember how you made them feel through your connection and communication.

Please reach out if you would like to talk through strategies for keeping connected with your staff during this period of uncertainty.

[Evelyn Pollard is a human resource and workforce specialist with extensive experience at both a strategic and operational level in human resource management, work health safety, injury management, customer service, change management and continuous improvement. She works closely with businesses to navigate the complex legislative environment that surrounds looking after their people. Evelyn has assisted businesses across many industry sectors including hospitality, engineering, fitness, local and state government, manufacturing, transport and hair and beauty. Further information can be viewed at www.epollardconsulting.com.au]

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