Embrace the holistic approach to crisis management

Most companies are not preparing their leadership pipeline to lead with resilience. And leaders are not preparing themselves to be resilient. The one thing you hardly hear about when discussing leadership and talent development initiatives is resilience. 

That is until there is a crisis. 

At that point resilience becomes a common refrain. A crisis by its very nature takes a toll on everyone affected. Fear and anxiety are commonplace, bringing myriad issues. 

But simply making it through a crisis has little bearing on how resilient you really are. 

Making through a crisis when there is a lack of leadership resilience magnifies the toll on individuals and organizations as a whole, impacting both hard and soft business costs. When leaders are inept at resilience skills, the workplace suffers as stress levels escalate and work quality declines. 

A Closer Look at the Costs: 

Let’s look at the implications, both at an individual leadership level and organizational level, of a lack of resilience. 

Individual Risk 

If your organization is not more holistically focused on the state of an employee, beyond what typical wellness programs offer, you’re failing to recognize a hidden impact on your business.

A holistic view of well-being would include areas such as emotional, physical, financial, social/belonging, spiritual, and career/personal fulfillment. During my workshops and client coaching sessions, professionals share that crises take a personal toll, causing them to feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Emotions and stress often show up in the following ways: 

  • Emotional well-being – panic, persistent worry, fear, doubt, confusion, anxiety, nervousness, anger, indecisiveness, sadness, loss, agitation, paralysis, insecurity, disappointment, lack of curiosity, pressure, frustration, depression 
  • Physical well-being – burnout, fatigue, exhaustion, lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, low energy, and other health problems 
  • Financial well-being – reduced income, debt, food insecurity, lack of savings 
  • Personal fulfillment – lack of confidence, low self-esteem, not living your dreams, not living up to your full potential, stagnation, feeling “less than,” fear of making costly mistakes 
  • Social/belonging well-being – isolation, strained relationships, lack of trust, lack of communication, loss of community 
  • Spiritual well-being – unworthiness, diminished faith, disconnectedness, fear, pessimism, discouragement. 

When the well-being of a workforce is compromised, the capacity for a resilient, productive, and engaged workplace is compromised. 

Increased Business Risk 

Workplaces are highly stressful, even in the absence of a crisis. 

A global Korn Ferry study of 1,400 professionals worldwide found that “nearly nine in 10 professionals say work stress is getting worse.” More than half of professionals surveyed felt that work-related stress was much higher than it was five years ago. Among the biggest contributing factors to heightened stress levels were heavy workload, a bad boss, organizational change, and the threat of job loss. 

Now let’s add a crisis to the mix.

Add a crisis to already high workplace stress levels and employee work pace and expectation increases. The levels of strain and tension are intensified. Stress escalates. 

Professionals have shared with me that the levels of nervousness and pressure their bosses experienced during the COVID-19 crisis created a more toxic work environment. The brunt of that stress often gets directed at employees, whether consciously or subconsciously. 

One of my coaching clients shared that her team experienced elevated levels of stress from the lack of defined processes as they were going through change. As these preventable levels of stress continue, some of the best talent tends to shut down and do no more than what is required to get by. 

Others will just leave – even in a distressed economic climate. 

The risk to your organization of ill-prepared leadership can be significant. In the Future of Work: The People Imperative, Deloitte reports that workplace stress costs global industry upwards of $300 billion per year in employee wellness, healthcare, and absence. 

Beyond the risk to operating results – greater revenue loss leading to deeper cuts in budgets, multiple rounds of layoffs, and a lack of investment back into the business – the more pressing risk is your human capital. 

Does your organization offer a wellness program or related services through your employee assistance program (EAP) that more holistically supports employees’ overall well-being? Which of the following areas of well-being are addressed: emotional, physical, financial, social/belonging, spiritual and career/personal fulfillment, other? 

If not then you are putting not only individuals at risk, but also your entire organization’s ability to be resilient when the next crisis hits.