Support for Employees During Crisis

Created in collaboration with the Office for Equity and Diversity
June 5, 2020

As communities throughout the Twin Cities and beyond experience anger, sadness, and grief due to George Floyd's murder and related unrest, we understand that many employees face additional stressors. In this time of fear and uncertainty, managers and supervisors can find ways to support employees, particularly Black and Indigenous employees and other employees of color who may need additional support. Our staff and faculty may have individual needs that the University can support during this incredibly difficult time.

President Gabel recognized this need for added support in her June 3 message to students, faculty, and staff systemwide. Below are ways to offer assistance, provide guidance, and acknowledge the added uncertainty placed upon employees.

Things to know and share

  • This is not “business as usual.” Employees, especially Black and Indigeous employees and other employees of color, may be facing a multitude of stressors. Some employees are experiencing trauma related to the persistent violence against Black communities. Employees may also face food insecurity and lack of access to supplies due to unrest in Twin Cities neighborhoods. Make intentional efforts to reach out to your team members to check in on their safety and wellbeing. The physical, emotional, and mental wellness of our employees is our top priority. The Office for Equity and Diversity offers resources to attend to these facets of the crisis with wellbeing and community resources.
  • Taking care of one another. This is an important time to learn more of the personal (as appropriate) and professional experiences of your team through routine check-ins, keeping in mind that some employees may have experienced stressful days or weeks amidst tense unrest and threats of violence. Consider extending work deadlines, offering time away from the computer as needed, and finding ways for employees to voluntarily discuss their experience, as appropriate. Managers and supervisors should listen openly and offer support when needed.
  • Taking care of the community. Listening to team members who live in areas directly affected by the unrest can provide a sense of their needs and the needs of their communities. Do they need time away to help in cleanups? Can other team members offer support in cleaning up businesses and streets or delivering supplies? Employees may want help finding ways to donate or volunteer. Pass along opportunities, like those provided by OED or the Alumni Association, and support requests to take part or take time away.

Manager and supervisor expectations

  • Take this time to listen and understand the needs of your employees, offering support and services when needed.
  • Provide opportunities for listening sessions and feedback that allow for empathy, compassion, and care.
  • If you need additional support, reach out to your HR lead or OED for consultation.

Encourage your team members to seek educational opportunities offered by the Office for Equity and Diversity’s Education Program. Share this resource of U of M Affinity Groups and information on the Twin Cities Diversity Community of Practice. Support your staff members who need to carve out time to find community in affinity groups and other forms of support offered by our University community.

If you would like more information about the importance of manager communication, please contact internalcomms@umn.edu.