This is not a typical post, but these are not usual times. As my heart breaks for the people of Ukraine, I feel a deep anguish that so many of us are experiencing. Many years ago, my ancestors fled the Russian army. This piece in The Washington Post articulates my feelings and fear.
With employees concerned and anxious because of the war, this is a moment for communications to support team members, respond and listen. Out of respect for the current situation, I’ve paused my regularly scheduled editorial calendar of posts.
Here are a few excellent examples of communications leadership, ways to help Ukrainians and your employees during this difficult time.
💙 #1 Acknowledge the Situation
Author and Illustrator Liz Fosslien on LinkedIn
Liz is the Co-Author of “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work.” She taps into the power of art and words to capture our feelings. She advises why it’s so important for leaders to acknowledge the news with employees.
“That can be as simple as sending your team a note that says, ‘In light of ______, I want to reiterate that if you need anything, please reach out. My priority is to support you.’ Chances are you don't know all the ways your people and their loved ones might be impacted.”
💛 #2 Offer Support to Those in Need
Brad Hoover, CEO at Grammarly’s commitment
As a leader, Brad shares the ways his company is supporting its employees based in Ukraine as well as organizations helping those impacted by the war — offering free services to assist.
“Grammarly remains committed to Ukraine. We’re continuing to hire for various roles on our team, and we’re continuing to offer Grammarly for free to all nonprofits and NGOs doing essential and much-needed work in the country. 160 organizations within Ukraine have already signed up, and I encourage others to do so as well!”
Anthony Rodriguez, Talent Acquisition Leader at Wix
Anthony shares the ways that Wix is helping its Ukrainian employees with support and safety.
“A few weeks ago Wix put its employees in Ukraine first, arranging for those employees & families who wanted to be flown out of the country in preparation for what was to come. All travel and living expenses are being covered by Wix.”
Natalia Panowicz, CEO at Codility
Natalia has stepped up personally to help from a neighboring country.
“I'm in Warsaw and together with my team we can provide transportation, shelter and help to settle in Poland for the Ukrainian people who can make it to the Polish border. We were able to help some Ukrainian people already and have capacity and strong will do do more.”
💙 #3 Share Resources to Contribute
Fast Company’s: 7 things you can do right now to help Ukraine
Many employees want to do something to help. Share resources to consider donating time, funds or expertise to help those impacted in Ukraine. This list from Fast Company offers many ideas—from supporting journalists to medical aid.
NPR’s Ways to Help
This list highlights NGOs that are stepping up to support—from children’s organizations to crisis relief.
World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsforUkraine
Founded by Chef Jose Andres in 2010, World Central Kitchen’s mission is “wherever there is a fight so that hungry people may eat, we will be there.” They are serving meals to refugees who are fleeing Ukraine.
“From our @WCKitchen team on the border of Ukraine and Poland: 1,700 hot meals of chicken, rice & veggies served here tonight! This is a 24-hour crossing and refugees from Ukraine are streaming through all night. This is just a start to WCK efforts on the ground! #ChefsForUkraine”
💛 #4 Support Mental Health
Artist and Author Dani DiPirro of Positively Present’s resources
With crises, mental health must be addressed. Remind employees of wellbeing resources to support them — services where they can speak to a therapist or recharge with meditation. Dani shares her tips for coping with terrible feelings.
“One of most challenging — and anxiety-producing — aspects of news intake is the helplessness that often comes along with it. So often, there are stressful stories or tales of those who are suffering, and, with all that’s going on in the world, it can be frustrating and overwhelming to feel as if, even though you’re informed, you can’t actually do anything meaningful. But that’s a falsehood we perpetuated by believing that meaning comes only from large, sweeping actions. The reality in which we all live is made up of moments, and every moment is a chance to make something meaningful.”
💙 #5 Listen to understand the impact on your employees
Jeremy Bell shared his family’s connection to Ukraine
We may not know of our colleagues connections to Ukraine — if they have family or friends impacted. Make the time to check in to ask how your team members are feeling. Listen to understand their situation. Encourage them to share with others, if they are comfortable.
“My little sister was born in Ukraine and joined our family when she was 2 years old. I was 3 years old at the time, and she instantly became my best friend.”
💛 #6 Empower Employees to Make an Impact
Cristiana Maria offered her own place as housing to any Ukrainian in need
People are stepping up in powerful ways — offering housing, organizing supportive lists and donating supplies. Once reviewed internally, these can be shared with employees to empower them to make an impact.
There are so many resources circulating, here are two crowd-sourced resources that came my way:
Global Shapers in Ukraine: Ways you can help
“If you know of a Ukrainian family that would need shelter and could make it to Bucharest (!), I am wholeheartedly offering my studio apartment near the Otopeni airport, for an unlimited period of time.”