I couldn’t keep my eyes off the ticker today. We all knew it was going to happen. The S&P gave us a whole weekend to contemplate whether we’d push the panic button. And push the panic button we did. More than 5% of the markets value simply flitted away today. We have yet again witnessed American herd mentality at its worst. Bunch of sheep, I say. I’m not an economist so I can’t really explain what’s happening in our markets. But it feels a bit irrational. It certainly is disruptive. And more than anything it’s just another thing to trouble over. Or at least we’ll be told that it’s another thing to trouble over. Lovely. Just lovely.
An Inadvertent Call to Action.
I was hanging out on the Drive Thru HR Show (guest Benjamin McCall) today over the lunch hour when Bryan Wempen said, “HR can either be the stability or the catalyst for chaos.” Aside from having a nice ring to it, Bryan’s pithy statement was really kind of a call to action for our HR community. The lines are drawn for where an employer can and cannot delve into matters that impact the lives of our employees outside of the workplace. Those lines are based primarily on whether said matters have any relevance to said workplace. And because ‘relevance’ is a terribly subjective qualifier, those lines can be awfully grey.
Is it Relevant?
That’s for you and yours to decide. Here’s a hint, though: yes, it is. As your employees head home for the day, they will again be subjected to a barrage of negative stimuli – mostly from the mainstream media – about why this is the next closest thing to “the sky is falling.” Some will wonder what this might mean to their job security. Others will worry about whether retiring from your hell-hole will ever really be an option. Your recruits – particularly those passive job-seekers – might decide to throw you the cold shoulder. Those who were just starting to salivate over what was (until last week) promising to be a pretty good bonus year are once again mumbling obscenities under their breaths.
You don’t have the answers.
Their angst is more about not knowing what that outcome will be than it is about the outcome itself. Start by acknowledging their uncertainty and then trying to understand it. Listen to their questions – give them permission and the forum to ask them. You won’t have all the answers (and don’t you dare pretend you do). But transparency – even if there’s really nothing behind the curtain – is the best step to mitigating uncertainty. And sometimes saying “I have no frackin’ idea” is the most transparent thing you can do. It puts you on an even playing field…now you’re just as clueless as they are. And clueless loves company.
Image Credit: Stéfan