Manager’s Role with Distressing Current Events

Tips for Managers Supporting Employees with Diverse Perspectives Regarding Potentially Divisive Events 

 Managers play a crucial role in supporting employees with diverse perspectives around social, political, and international events.  Discussions about these events can be sensitive and potentially divisive, and it’s essential for managers to create an inclusive and respectful environment.  Here are some tips for managers: 

  1. Acknowledge: Say something to your team to acknowledge that the event has occurred or is occurring (for events that are ongoing) and that you are aware that it may be affecting them. 
  2. Check-in: Reach out individually to employees who you know are impacted directly or indirectly to let them know you recognize that they may be affected by the event.  Follow-up regularly to see how they are doing and to offer support.  
  3. Open communication: Encourage open and honest communication. Let your employees know that you are there to listen, and they can express their concerns, fears, and opinions. Ensure that this communication is confidential and non-judgmental. 
  4. Be empathetic: Show empathy and understanding towards your employees’ emotions and concerns. Recognize that the event may have a significant impact on their mental and emotional well-being. 
  5. Respect diversity: Ensure that your workplace is respectful and inclusive of all backgrounds and viewpoints. Promote diversity and inclusion as core values and encourage respectful dialogue.  
  6. Flexibility: Recognize that the event may affect your employees differently. Be flexible with work arrangements, deadlines, and time off to accommodate individual needs. 
  7. Monitor workloads: Keep an eye on employee workloads to prevent burnout. Employees may be distracted or emotionally affected by the event, so it’s important to manage expectations and help redistribute tasks as necessary. 
  8. Training and education: Consider offering training on conflict resolution, intercultural communication, and diversity sensitivity to help employees better navigate difficult discussions and maintain a respectful workplace. Resources at BU OD&L are available to all BU employees.  
  9. Check-in regularly: Make a habit of checking in with your employees individually and as a team to ensure they are coping well and to provide a platform for them to voice their concerns. 
  10. Encourage self-care: Remind employees about the importance of self-care during stressful times. Encourage them to seek support, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and practice stress-reduction techniques. The Headspace meditation app is free to all BU employees.  
  11. Provide resources: Offer information and resources for employees to access support if needed.  Remind them of the free and confidential counseling and referrals provided by the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office (FSAO).  Refer them to well-being resources on the FSAO website including self-care tips and Well-being Video Library . 
  12. Support team cohesion: Organize team-building activities or discussions that foster unity and mutual support among employees and celebrate team members unique background and beliefs. 
  13. Stay informed: Stay informed about the latest developments in the event to better understand its impact on your team. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and respond to employee concerns.  
  14. Personal Self-Care: Also, emphasize the significance of self-care for yourself as a manager during stressful periods. Be mindful of your own stress levels and don’t hesitate to seek help, such as through the FSAO.  
  15. Consider consulting with the FSAO: If you are concerned about a particular employee or a team, speak with a FSAO counselor to identify customized strategies for offering support.  Learn more about services the FSAO provides for Critical Incidents. 

Remember that the key to supporting employees during a potentially divisive event is to maintain an atmosphere of empathy, respect, and inclusivity. Your leadership can play a vital role in helping your team navigate these challenging times. 

 Additional Information and Resources

FSAO Trauma Resources

FSAO Critical Incidents

BU OD&L Supporting Staff and Teams

Leadership Communication: Anticipating and Responding to Stressful Events

Grief Leadership: Leadership in the Wake of Tragedy