The COVID-19 Curve – How can employers work through it and support their employees through the curve?

The COVID-19 virus has created a huge crisis throughout the world, and all businesses are having to take radical decisions on a daily basis.  We are all in completely uncharted territory, and we and our employees may be struggling both professionally and personally to find our way in these challenging and changing times.

Working off the original Kubler-Ross curve that was utilised originally in the 1970s (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1969) for people going through grief, we have taken the curve and looked at the reactions that we and our employees may be going through.

We have taken our version of the COVID-19 Curve and considered the following:

  • Today – where are you now on this curve? As an employer hopefully you can move through the curve reasonably quickly as you need to be coming up the end of the curve to support your employees – everyone will work through the curve at a different pace. Some need more time than others, but as employers, we need to be driving positive behaviour and supporting employees as they struggle in the frustration and depression stages.
  • Phases & stages – recognise that each phase and stage is different and will pass. What can you do to help yourself and others move through each phase? By understanding where you and your employees are on this curve, you can provide the particular support they need e.g. if you have an employee who is really struggling and is depressed or feeling very isolated, you need to support them more to move to the next stage. Do you need to give more information or emotional support or is guidance and direction more appropriate at this stage?
  • Acceptance – by accepting our situation and moving to a more positive place, we can rationalise how we are going to continue to work in a changed world – and also make sure that there are the supports in place for ourselves and our employees. The world of work will never be the same again, so it’s vital to accept this and understand the implications. Employers have a responsibility to continually communicate to all employees as more details become available.
  • Integration – this curve gives us an understanding of the natural highs and lows we will all go through over the next few weeks and perhaps months. It will help us to understand and accept your own and others’ behaviours and responses and can give you a real understanding of why some people behave and react in certain ways.

Employers, and their employees, can have bad days and revert back to depression/frustration – they then need to work through the curve again to hopefully move to acceptance and integration.

Employers can significantly help employees by driving strong messages giving employees clear direction and strategic detail so that employees can feel they are getting more control over their working lives. In a crisis that none of us have ever experienced, the key to moving forward is to feel – both personally and professionally – that we are gaining some control over our lives.