Supporting Your Employees in the Aftermath of a Crisis

The executives – and PR team – at BP have been taking quite a beating over the past month or so.

It seems that every day there is a new batch of PR and crisis experts opining about how poorly the company is handling the media as BP — and the U.S. government — scramble to stop the devastating oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

And now there’s talk of a criminal investigation into the oil spill.

I know I’m not alone in my frustration that – after more than 40 days – BP hasn’t managed to cap the well.  And sure, I’d love to see someone be held accountable for an environmental crisis that has the potential to affect not only the Gulf shores, but also the Eastern Seaboard of North America and perhaps even spread across the Atlantic to Spain.

But ecological issues aside, I worry about the BP employees and wonder how they are handling this crisis.  And I wonder how, or if, their company helping them cope with BP’s new notoriety.

It can’t be easy to be a BP employee these days. 

I read an interesting article on the other day, “Surviving Your Company’s Mistakes.”  While the article focused on employee morale issues at companies in crisis, I was struck by a quote from a woman who worked for Qwest Communications when that company was embroiled in a massive financial fraud investigation.

“At baby showers, networking groups, even when I went to the doctor’s office and filled out forms, I didn’t want to say where I worked.”

Think about it – there are more than 92,000 BP employees world-wide and a mere fraction of that number work within 100 miles of the oil spill.

I have to believe that the remaining employees – drivers, analysts, mechanics, technicians, engineers, administrative assistants – come to work every day, hoping that this will be the day that the spill is capped and they can once again wear their BP name badges and uniforms in public.

According to the article, when Toyota was faced with massive recalls earlier this year, the employee communication team reacted quickly – instituting Town Hall meetings, online forums for submitting questions to executives, and a series of ongoing status updates.

It would be interesting to hear what, if anything, BP is doing to sustain employee morale and help employees cope these days.  In all my research for this week’s blog post, I didn’t see a single quote from a BP executive or HR professional about how they are communicating with their employees and keeping them informed and engaged.

However, I did find this quote on the Careers page of BP’s website: “To BP, the most important form of energy comes from the people who work with us.”



About Susan Rink

Susan C. Rink is president and owner of Rink Strategic Communications, LLC ( and a partner in Triple Play Consulting.
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1 Response to Supporting Your Employees in the Aftermath of a Crisis

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