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How organisations can support employees amid the Russia-Ukraine war

On February 21, 2022, we awoke to learn that Russia had begun a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on President Vladimir Putin’s orders.  

As seen through news coverage and social media, the enormity and impact of the conflict is well documented. Although not comparable to those currently experiencing the conflict first-hand, the events unavoidably affect others around the world, and may well in turn impact wellbeing, particularly those with ties to the countries and who may be concerned about the safety of their loved ones.  

Many people within the UK are currently experiencing anxiety and fear, which may overlap with work life. It could result in employees finding it difficult to stay interested and productive at work; subsequently, their mental health may suffer.  

Employers must be aware of this and provide support to their employees during these trying times.  

Supporting those affected  

Organisations should support employees who are both directly and indirectly affected by the conflict. This includes UK employees who are Ukrainian or have relatives, friends, or coworkers in Ukraine. It’s important to also consider that Russians in the UK will also be involved and may need support. Some may fear retaliation, and the war and its consequences will touch people who have no direct ties to Russia.  

How to support employees  

  • Communication is crucial 

Issuing a company-wide message to inform the entire workforce of the available support choices through email, bulletin boards, or discussed in team meetings, will help emphasise that your employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing are paramount.  

  • Creating a supportive culture  

Keeping employees engaged, productive, and positive by ensuring a supportive culture is critical. To achieve this, organisations must guarantee consistency throughout – everybody is then on the same page and can accomplish a supportive culture. In addition, the following may help:   

  1. Frequent 1-2-1 catch ups between employees and leadership will provide employees with the communication they need to feel supported both at work and home.  
  2. Introducing Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), which gives employees and families access to professional support, is vital in these circumstances.  
  • Be proactive, not reactive  

Proactively identifying any employees affected by the crisis and offering support is crucial. Any member of staff, regardless of nationality, may have relatives, friends, or loved ones in Ukraine. As already covered, it’s also vital to offer and provide the same support to Russian employees as to all other people within the workforce. Consider that the nature of the conflict may make Russian employees feel targeted, employers must do all possible to alleviate these concerns and develop a culture of communication and support for issues to be discussed and resolved efficiently.  

  • Create a psychologically safe environment  

It can be important not to shy away from real world issues, but instead enable open workplace conversations about issues that affect employees. In doing so, organisations strengthen culture and support employees to feel supported.   

  1. Reinforce the importance of workplace respect by reminding about your anti-discrimination policies. State your stance clearly – discriminatory language about either Russian or Ukrainian people will not be tolerated. 
  2. Ensure the workplace remains a safe place for all employees. There will be differing opinions on conflicts, and organisations should make it clear that colleagues who take opposing views should not be labeled or treated as wrong. 

 Contact the hr inspire team today if you would like more information on how to support your employees

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