Providing certainty to employees during uncertain times

It’s natural for us to want certainty – even at the best of times. But certainty becomes even more important when we’re living through an uncertain period.

COVID-19 giving rise to declining businesses is an example where employees feel uncertain. Many employees have either lost their jobs or are on forced paid or unpaid leave, stood down from their positions and don’t know what will happen.

There are always things outside of your control as an employee and there’s not much you can do about that. But how you manage what’s within your control is very important. Being an employer isn’t only about delegating tasks to employees. It’s also about being a great leader. And great leaders know how to manage uncertainty.

So, how can you be a great leader and help your employees get through periods of uncertainty? Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Honesty and Consistency

Be honest when answering questions posed by employees. There’s no benefit in you dancing around the issue.

If an employee asks a question you can’t answer – say so!

Be consistent with information you’re providing your employees. Inconsistency and dishonesty affects your leadership reputation and credibility. And not in a good way!

Being honest raises your credibility which, in turn, makes you a better leader. Employees are more likely to be loyal and follow good leaders.

2. Regular meetings

At the moment we’re adhering to social distancing guidelines. But that doesn’t prevent you from having regular meetings with your employees. Make good use of technology by using video conferencing tools such as Zoom.

Such meetings are not only about providing employees with updates. They’re also a great way to:

  • engage with your employees

  • get to know where their mindsets are at

  • address any concerns employees may have

This is how to gain insight into how uncertainty is affecting your employees. With this knowledge, you can better provide the support your employees need.

Have both team meetings and one-on-one meetings. Team meetings are great for strategizing and also staying connected and supported. One-on-one meetings are a great way to check-in on employees at a more personal level. This allows you to learn if there’s anything affecting an employee’s work performance.

This will feel like a lot of work but your employees will be grateful and feel that you’re there for them.

3. Provide clarity

Clarity provides certainty. Employees need to know what their responsibilities are during a crisis. Reinforce key objectivities and provide certainty on deliverables.

The regular meetings mentioned above are a great way to provide such clarity.

4. Reinforcing company values

During a crisis, use your company’s core values to navigate your way through the challenge. This accomplishes a few things:

  • it reinforces and builds your credibility and trust amongst your employees

  • it provides certainty. How? Because you’re not setting those values aside to make decisions that go against them

  • it shows your employees that you’re serious about keeping your values intact

5. Keep operating the business

This may seem obvious. But it’s important to have strategy discussions on how to work through a crisis. It’s so easy to have discussions about the crisis instead.

It may be that your business plan needs to change because of a crisis. But if that’s what it takes to have your business survive then it’s important to do it. This means your employees know you’ll go the extra mile to provide them certainty. And it provides you with some certainty as well!


There will always be an element of uncertainty during a crisis – for everyone. How much certainty you can and do provide during that time is very important. The more certainty you provide during a crisis – the more likely you’ll become an employer of choice. It’s all about maintaining a good employee culture.

Need some tailor-made advice? Email me at

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