At a time when businesses are faced with an unprecedented crisis in the form of Covid 19, the timeliness of their communication and the content of their message will be a critical business differentiator. It can help ease employee worries, and improve workplace experience when done well or it may do the opposite, when companies fail to plan.
Leaders need to be aware of the need to be flexible and agile, especially because there’s something new piece of information that needs to be factored. And as the situation unfolds, they may have to confront baseless rumors and create an environment that is not conducive to work.
Here’s how companies need to think about their communication:
1. Allay fear: One of the features of a workplace during crisis is the uncertainty that looms in the air. It is the responsibility of the business and HR leader to make sure that they are able to allay fears and concerns early and quickly. If they don’t do that, they may end up spending time navigating crisis of their own doing. Stating the facts with the intention to reassure employees will be critical, and having a communication plan that is direct and crisp will help navigate a climate of fear.
2. Communicate proactively: Don’t just wait for employees to come up with questions for you to address. Whether it’s stating the avenues for health and wellness that’s available, helping employees understand their financial benefits at work – whether that’s access to medical insurance for themselves and their dependents. Or communicating any changes to workplace policies or HR processes as a result of the pandemic, HR departments need to be proactive.
3. Design a rhythm: In order to keep the communication lines open as well as to keep your employees updated regularly, it’s necessary to design a communication rhythm that is direct, concise and open. For an HR professional, creating a rhythm also creates an opportunity to keep yourself update regularly on the latest information from credible sources. Sharing good news, and engaging with your employees with games and quizzes, work from home tips will help boost employee morale.
4. Train managers: Often, an employee’s first point of contact is their immediate manager or supervisor, and they need to be trained to clearly communicate roles and expectations, and if they themselves are not up-to-date about change in workplace policies or the avenues of support available to employees, then it will direct affect employee experience.
5. Support employees: With a number of new virtual tools that have become the mainstay of workplace communication, companies have had to adapt quickly – whether that’s a virtual conference or a new technology that will help a company’s operations, It is the job of the HR leader to identify groups of employees who may need any support or help.
With continuous communication becoming a central part of the job of an HR professional, there’s a need to be emphatic and honest throughout the process, and if and when a query needs to be answered by an expert, there is a need to align communication accordingly. Effective communication will be central to navigating a crisis. And HR needs to be front and center of this project.