There are certain luxuries that come with being CEO. One is that you generally have a clear sense of the direction and long term prospects of the company. That isn’t always the case for your employees and when it comes to geopolitical events, unease can set in.
According to a recent survey of 1,018 UK adults by the job website Glassdoor, 48 per cent of respondents admitted that they are worried about being made redundant in the next 12 months, while 57 per cent admitted that they have reduced their personal spending over long-term job worries as a direct result of Brexit.
Sadly, if recent events in Parliament tell us anything, it’s that businesses are still far away from receiving the much needed certainty they need to properly plan for the future. The impacts of Brexit are not black and white and differ from firm to firm - while some may be benefitting from the depreciation of the pound or exploring opportunities in new frontiers, sadly others will be forced to scale back operations.
Whatever the case, people will never perform at their best, professionally or personally, if they’re worried about their job security or they feel like the leadership team is hiding something. Transparency and communication are a leader’s best defence against unease setting in; if tough decisions are expected, keep staff in the loop, likewise if all is rosy let them know.
Recruitment kingpin James Reed concurs. When faced with the prospect of having to reduce headcount by up to a quarter during the 2008 financial crisis, he outlined three key principles that all staff could understand, which made delivering bad news much more palatable: the company would try to break even, it wouldn’t cut bonuses and it would seek to preserve as many jobs as possible.
"People understood that we weren't cutting jobs to make money, it was to save the company and they respected that, no matter how painful it was,"says Reed. "I'm still connected to a lot of the people that left."
As the company figurehead, people will look to you for reassurance regardless of whether you feel like they need it or not. You cannot communicate enough. It might be via a monthly email, regular town halls or, as Dreams CEO Mike Logue prefers, a weekly video blog, but however they do it, the best leaders speak to their entire organisation regularly and clearly.
It may seem like an unnecessary distraction at times, but your staff will always be thankful.
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