COVID-19: Employee Communications during a crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has put employee communications at the forefront as many businesses adapt quickly to new working situations.

Physical distancing measures, school closures and self-isolation rules have led to various new working scenarios, including remote work, rotating shifts and retrofitted work environments. In some cases, companies have shut down temporarily, but want to stay in touch with workers and customers to maintain a sense of community and keep good ideas flowing.

Good employee communications are fundamental to your business success during this disruption, and a solid plan will help you rebound more quickly when things return to normal.

In this article:

Overview: The purpose of employee communications in a crisis

Employees are first and foremost looking to you for reassurance and guidance. Clarification of goals and regular feedback can help individuals and teams stay on track. This is true for both remote and on-site employees. Here are some ideas of how to reach out to employees on a regular basis to let them know they are a priority:

  • Communicate clearly and often any changes to business activities or goals.
  • Reach out to employees whenever there are changes to business planning, growth, implementation or procedures.
  • A once or twice daily check-in can be helpful for teams to align goals.
  • Avoid micro-managing your employees by staying focused on daily, weekly and monthly targets.
  • Look for opportunities to strengthen relationships, acknowledging that employees may be managing childcare and household tasks around their regular work schedules.

Leaders have three key communication priorities

Reassure: This is what employees need most of all. They want to know they’re on the right track. They need to be in touch and receive frequent feedback. This is especially true of remote workers.

Inform: Employees need to know the what, who, how, when, where, particularly as things shift day-to-day.

Mobilise: Only express a sense of urgency when its relevant. Otherwise, employees need a clear vision, identified actions and clear instructions so they can move forward at their own pace.

Promote employee wellness and mental health

Uncertain times will cause stress and anxiety. Let employees know that their wellness and mental health are important to you. Encourage them to:

  • Stay informed with news and facts during the COVID-19 crisis, but also to take breaks from news and social media about the pandemic.
  • Take care of their physical health with exercise.
  • If they have a pre-existing mental health condition, ensure they continue to follow their treatment plan.
  • Take time to unwind and spend time on activities they enjoy.
  • Connect with others, safely through technology.
  • Consider leveraging mobile apps that focus on mental health and wellness.

Tip: The employee communications plan offers 12 pro-tips, plus a one-page chart to list essential messages, when you’ll reach out to staff, and how (social media, conference call, email, etc.).

Employee communications plan

Chart key messages, timing and ways to communicate

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