Part of the challenge of communicating to employees during a crisis is the ambiguity of the situation. If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, we often don’t have a playbook.
But we do have a powerful tool that can help internal communication make a difference: being employee-centric. Now, more than ever, we need to see communication from employees’ points of view:
- What is on employees’ minds as they wrestle with a world turned upside down and try to complete their work?
- For people who have never worked from home for long periods, what information do they need?
- What about employees who have childcare issues and others may have elderly parents who need attention?
- How do you meet the needs of a large group who feel inundated by conflicting information?
Once you put yourself in employees’ shoes, develop communication strategies that supports your colleagues. Here are three ways:
1. Make information convenient and helpful.
Create a one-stop source for details related to the crisis: materials and resources that reassure employees, help them feel in control and provide practical how-to tips on getting work done.
For example, one of our clients created a separate intranet page devoted to COVID-19 with four categories of content: tips on working remotely (including how to get technical support), steps you and your family can take, links to existing benefits and programs, and details on what the company is doing.
2. Leave the expertise to the experts.
As we’ve seen with COVID-19, there’s a lot of information out there. Play the role of curator rather than aggregator and provide access to leading authorities who have answers to employees’ most pressing questions.
How? Instead of taking several CDC fact sheets about COVID-19 and adding your logo, pull out a few key bullets and link directly to the CDC website. Similarly, link to IT for information about working remotely or to HR about available mental health resources.
3. Keep up with the changing situation.
When it comes to a crisis, the situation changes daily or even hourly. Your communication needs to align with those changes, so it’s important to make sure you have a dedicated resource who can consider implications and make regular updates.
One idea: Create a “What’s new” section on your intranet so employees understand where updated information lives. Include the latest information there while maintaining existing resources.