A turbulent economic landscape and significant organisational change are both acute triggers for employee uncertainty. They are also both inevitable. As these circumstances arise, HR managers face a challenging paradox; to sooth employee uncertainty when they are often uncertain themselves.

It is somewhat easy to sympathise with employees affected by uncertainty. The invisible barrier uncertainty places in front of an employee’s career path disarms their ability to make confident decisions about the future. A source of even more anxiety for employees is the ripple effect their decisions have on other parts of their life; family, lifestyle, and fnancial security are all dependent on the stability of an employee’s future.

Secondly, periods of uncertainty are closely aligned with retrenchment. As job losses mount, it isn’t uncommon that a loss of engagement ensues as a direct result. This has further repercussions for an organisation, reflected in reduced productivity arising from absenteeism or presenteeism.

These two factors alone cost the Australian economy $10.8 billion per annual – not exactly what an organisation who is already struggling with a tough economic environment can afford.

Taking both their organisation and their employees into consideration, HR Managers are faced with the painstaking role of subduing these persistent effects of uncertainty. This is by no means an easy task, especially when the Manager is more often than not affected by uncertainty themselves. There are a few strategies Managers can employee to tackle uncertainty in the workplace:

  • Communicate. At our annual client roundtable, the CEO of an industry-leading organisation articulated the value of communication that he realised when dealing with a period of uncertainty. He had reached a point where there was nothing he could add to clarify the presiding situation, and this is exactly what he communicated to his staff. This was well received by all employees as it indicated that he wasn’t hiding in the shadows and was sharing all he knew. Transparency from top management during this situation was able to instil confidence amongst the team and numb the effects of uncertainty.
  • Consistency. Be consistent with your communications and behaviours. Employees will quickly identify inconsistencies and heighten their sense of uncertainty.
  • Lead. Even if there are events which are disruptive and there is uncertainty as to whether they will or won’t occur, a leader still needs to have an unequivocal vision for what the future should look like

Have you experienced the negative consequences of periods of uncertainty, and how did you handle it? If you are concerned that uncertainty might rear its ugly head in your organisation please contact us today for more information.