People Management in times of crisis and conflict
Contemporary world is characterized by crisis and conflict. The recent COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are creating pervasive societal divisions, for instance between beliefs (e.g., vaxxers and anti-vaxxers), national borders (e.g., Russians and Ukrainians), or lived experiences (e.g., Israeli and Palestinian). Importantly, modern-day organizations are equally diverse, employing individuals from diverse backgrounds. Consequently, the conflicts that pervade society are likely to spill over into the workplace, giving rise to negative consequences such as stigmatization, prejudice, identity threat and insecurity.
Surprisingly, the consequences of international crises and conflicts for the workplace have been largely ignored. We know relatively little about what organizational and leadership practices may alleviate stigmatization processes, repair interpersonal and intergroup dynamics, or deconstruct conflict divides. These are critical knowledge gaps if we are to foster the competencies that contemporary and future leaders and people managers need to promote, repair, and maintain the well-being of employees regardless of nationality, background, or perceived ‘side’ in the conflicts we face as a society.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the Finnish workplace
Focusing on the currently unfolding Ukrainian crisis, the current project aims to examine the effects of geopolitical crisis and conflict on employee psychological safety and create actionable recommendations for organizational leaders and people managers.
The Ukrainian crisis has to date resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths and the largest refugee crisis since World War II, as over six million refugees have left Ukraine since February 2022. This conflict has repercussions specifically for the Finnish workplace, as people of Russian background constitute the second largest foreign minority in Finland. Many of them work in Finnish organizations and are often perceived as associated with the ‘wrong side’ of the ongoing conflict. Furthermore, due to the proximity of Finland to Russia, Finland has received roughly 65,000 protection and asylum applications from Ukrainian and Russian citizens since February 2022. Therefore, leaders and people managers in Finnish organizations are faced with an unprecedented challenge of supporting and facilitating the integration of these migrants and refugees.
As such, the objective of our research is to examine the implications of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict for the workplace and provide actionable recommendations for leaders and people managers to foster the well-being of Finnish home country nationals as well as foreign employees and refugees from Ukraine and Russia.
DSc (Econ) Alexei Koveshnikov: Leadership and People Management in Times of Geopolitical Crisis: Facilitating and Maintaining Employee Psychological Safety during the Ukrainian Crisis, Aalto-yliopisto, 60 000 € (apurahakierros 2023, 12 kk)