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Crisis: Managing workplace hysteria

By Nancy Nzalambi | April 5th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Crises at the workplace are associated with anxiety and emotions among employees. These are the times that can make or break a company. Crises expose flaws in company’s management, culture and policies.

Many workplaces across the globe have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The spread of this illness has caused uncertainty in the future of jobs and businesses. It has forced companies to make drastic changes.

Some workers are facing salary cuts due to reduced incomes. Other companies may shut down or shift to working remotely. Remote working is by far a much safer option to get work done with the prevailing circumstances.

However, the pandemic has brought out a lot of fake news and insensitive comments that fuel hysteria at our workplaces. Here is what we ought to do;

Get adapted

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It is truly a challenging time. We have to adapt to a new way of living and doing business. Institutions of learning have been shut down and people are busy stocking rolls of toilet paper.

It is troubling that the corona pandemic is forcing the globe to work as a village. There are many unpleasant consequences of not following health directives by the authorities.

We have to intentionally follow what is needed to keep our work spaces, homes and ourselves safe. Get used to being productive at home.

Do your part -- a pandemic cannot be left to health workers and scientists alone. We have to adapt and contribute positively to ease the sting of this illness

Re-evaluate communication shortcomings

During a crisis, emotions are normally on an all-time high. You will also notice that people respond or rather react differently to information.

To communicate effectively to your co-workers and managers, handle sensitive information based on the guidelines of your company.

Even though communication should be reinforced, it is crucial that considerations are made so that any message does not add to an already stressful situation.

Give your mind a break

The Covid-19 crisis is a global problem, affecting people indiscriminately. The fact-versus-fiction debate catapults public hysteria that brings anxiety not only in our work places but where we live too.

It is unfortunate that there is a surge of unreliable information online. Avoid overthinking what would become of the world once the outbreak is contained. All this information, fake and real, leads to mental fatigue.

Read a book, listen to music, help the kids with homework and school projects, download some comedies and watch. Get some work done if possible. Call and check up on your loved ones. Take steps to ease your concerns.

Avoid speculation

It is easy to get consumed by anxiety fuelled by rumours. Heightened fears always harm productivity. Studies indicate that 21.9 per cent of employees feel that their colleagues do not have good enough skills to enable optimal productivity when working from home.

Some managers may have almost zero experience in supervising teams working remotely. Instead of feeding into the panic, or worrying about the unpreparedness of your manager to manage a remote team, allow the digital transformation to bring the much needed positive change.

Your input in making sure business doesn’t stall could be the basis of the shift your company needs during this unexpected transition.

Work with Centralised communication

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our work places in ways some companies were not prepared for. It dominates the updates in the local and international media scenes. Our social media posts, conversations and interactions are now centered on it.

In this age of fake news, conspiracy theories and misinformation, a centralised communication point is the best solution in any organisation. Hysteria heightens when misinformation and theories are not immediately and appropriately addressed.

To reduce anxiety with the work uncertainties among co-workers the centralised communication point should strive to debunk myths and pass across the business continuity plan in a timely manner.


Physical exercise has been shown to be a useful tool in maintaining mental fitness. Apart from boosting cognitive function, it will improve your alertness and you will be more receptive to enforced measures that are aimed at reducing cases of Covid-19. Make sure you have enough rest too. You are less likely to have emotional outbursts when you are refreshed.

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