In my conversations with employee communicators, the most common phrase I’m hearing right now is this: “I am under water.”
No surprise there. Internal communication is in the spotlight. According to a survey by Edelman, employees trust their employers—above government or media—to accurately communicate about the crisis.
But how do you decide what to communicate? It’s simple: Put yourself in employees’ shoes and focus on creating, delivering or facilitating communication to meet people’s needs.
Here is what employees want to hear, and how you can help:
1. Facts about the crisis. “There’s too much information out there, I need one place to understand what’s happening.” Employees want to know what’s going on with this pandemic and they are overwhelmed by trying to find information on their own.
Don’t try to be an expert; curate the content for employees. Summarize key information and provide links to credible resources. Be sure to update frequently to keep up with the changing situation.
2. What the company is doing. “Is the company financially healthy? Are we still following the same business strategy?” Company business strategy and performance are top-of-mind topics for employees.
The best source for this type of big-picture company communication? Senior leaders. Make sure leaders understand their communication responsibilities and that they have the tools and channels to provide frequent updates.
3. What this means for employees and their roles. “What am I supposed to do now? Do I need to be in the office? Is my job secure?” Employees need details on what the crisis specifically means for them.
To get specific answers to employees, you need to help managers communicate details to their teams. Help set managers up for success by providing a robust set of questions employees are likely to ask and specific answers.
4. What’s going on with colleagues. “I miss my colleagues. What is everyone up to? Is everyone okay?” While isolated at home, employees crave connection with their colleagues.
This is the perfect opportunity to leverage an internal social platform such as Yammer or Workplace to help connect with each other. You can help get the party started by posting polls or questions about what everyone is up to.
5. Fun stuff. “It’s a scary time, I could really use a smile right now.” Having fun with communication does not mean your organization is not taking this situation seriously. Employees need some light-hearted stuff too.
Host a virtual happy hour, conduct a cute pet photo contest, create a “funny meme” section on your intranet or anything else that might make employees laugh for a minute.
Focus on these five things and your employees will be grateful, engaged and productive.
And don’t worry: You got this!