5 Keys to Supporting Your Employees in the Wake of the Israeli-Gaza Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict's impact on the workplace is a multifaceted issue, affecting employee well-being, diversity dynamics, activism, and the experience of community. Each employee will have unique needs, and employers' goal should be to provide a supportive and understanding environment. In this article, learn 5 keys to supporting employees as they navigate the complex emotions that come with such a situation.
1. Emphasize Employee Well-being
In the age of instant news and social media, constant updates on the conflict can be a source of distress, leading to decreased productivity and engagement at work. Employers have an essential role to play in supporting employees' mental health during these times. Start by educating yourself about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and understanding the many perspectives and emotions associated with it.
Normalize Loss: Employees may be experiencing loss in a rage of ways from loss of family to loss of religious identity to loss of security. Let your employees know that a sense of loss or grieving is a normal and individual process.
Provide Support: Individual or Group programs such as coaching and counseling can be valuable tools to helping employees navigate their feelings and develop tools to stay engaged and productive.
Practice Empathic Listening: Practice active listening when employees express their thoughts and concerns. Empathetic listening means giving your full attention, asking clarifying questions, and validating their emotions.
2. Manage Expectations
Managing employee productivity expectations during a period of conflict, can be challenging due to the potential impact on employees' emotional well-being and focus. It's important to strike a balance between maintaining productivity and being empathetic to the emotional stress that employees may be experiencing.
Prioritize Tasks: Help employees prioritize their tasks, focusing on critical and high-impact activities. This can help them stay productive despite the distractions.
Communicate Expectations: Understand that productivity may be affected, and expectations may need to be adjusted. Clearly define performance expectations and priorities during this period.
Flexibility: Focus on output and well-being rather than rigid schedules. Consider offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees who may be dealing with personal or emotional stress.
3. Acknowledge Diverse Workforce Dynamics
The Israeli conflict can lead to uncomfortable and difficult conversations among coworkers, especially if they hold differing views on the matter. This can result in tension, strained relationships, and even discrimination. Help your employees understand the context and complexities of the situation in Israel and Palestine. Establish a safe space where employees can openly discuss their feelings, fears, and concerns.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Support the creation of employee resource groups that can provide a safe space for like-minded individuals to discuss issues and concerns related to the conflict or any other relevant topic.
Educate: Organize educational workshops or seminars to help employees better understand the complexities of the Israeli conflict. These can promote empathy, tolerance, and cross-cultural understanding.
Promoting Inclusivity: Foster a workplace culture that values diversity of thought and encourages the free exchange of ideas. Celebrate differences and promote inclusivity. Ensure that all employees, regardless of their background or views, feel included and respected.
4. Embrace Activism and Advocacy
Employees may engage in public demonstrations, raise awareness, or contribute to humanitarian aid efforts. While such actions are protected under labor laws, they can also affect work schedules and productivity. Strike a balance between allowing employees to exercise their right to free speech and ensuring that work commitments are met. You may find success in the following:
Maintain Neutrality: Maintain a neutral stance in your company's business operations and avoid taking a position that might alienate employees with differing views.
Encourage Volunteer Opportunities: Support and promote employee volunteering or fundraising efforts for charitable organizations working to alleviate the humanitarian impacts of the conflict.
Recognize & Celebrate Employee Activism: Acknowledge and celebrate employees' efforts and achievements in activism and advocacy through internal communications, awards, or recognition programs.
5. Build Community It is essential to maintain a healthy, inclusive, and productive workplace during times of crisis. It helps employees navigate differences, creates engagement, and strengthens the organization's culture, all of which can lead to better outcomes. When employees see their organization as a place where they can have important conversations and grow together, they are more likely to be engaged and committed.
Open Dialogue & Communication : Encourage open and constructive dialogue on issues, whether through company-wide discussions, internal forums, or anonymous suggestion boxes.
Create Company-wide Initiatives: An initiative to support humanitarian efforts can be a positive way to bring employees together and remind them that they are part of a larger community that shares their concerns.
Lead by Example: You need to walk the walk. Take an inclusive and empathic approach to maintain a productive work environment while respecting your employees' needs during this difficult time . Provide mentorship and leadership development opportunities.
Remember, the key is to be compassionate, patient, and flexible as your team navigates the emotional challenges brought about by a traumatic event and ongoing conflict. Employers need to acknowledge these challenges and create an environment that supports their employees during this tumultuous time. By fostering open communication, providing resources, and promoting a culture of respect, organizations can navigate the complexities of the Israeli conflict while maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment.