If employee communication was key before COVID-19, it’s even more significant now. Businesses have smartly published COVID-19 readiness statements on their websites to convey service continuity to their customers. Equally, if not more important, is how you are reaching out to your people to show your concern for them, and so that everyone is on the same page regarding business operations. Here are five ways to communicate with your employees during these unprecedented times.
1) Discuss the State of the Business
A recent Gallup poll reports that only 39% of the nation’s employees feel that their employer has offered a clear plan of action in response to COVID-19. As employees absorb the shock of the pandemic, it’s critical that they hear from business owners and leadership teams to understand the health of the company and what they can expect. Now is the time to have an all hands on deck meeting to clarify how employees will fit into the bigger picture of the organization and how customers will be served.
2) Assign a COVID-19 Coordinator
Here’s a role you never thought you’d have to create. They call these uncertain times for a reason. Employees have a lot of questions about COVID-19 issues, like, “What happens if I, a co-worker, or you catch the disease?” Assigning a COVID-19 coordinator to run point on these matters and provide answers will indicate that you are closely monitoring the wellbeing of your staff.
3) Communicate Consistently
Following the state of the business meeting, schedule frequent check-ins with your staff. If you’re now operating remotely, this is easy to do using various video conferencing software that we discussed in our last post. Your people would rather hear from you than guess what the latest news is. A lack of communication inspires bad imagination.
4) Be Intentionally Empathetic
In an interview with Forbes, Executive Coach, H.V. MacArthur says that companies need to prioritize morale-building efforts. “A chance for employees to discuss their families, pets and hobbies wouldn’t be critical in normal times but these are far from normal times,” she says. “Morale building efforts tend to be a secondary effort to ensuring business productivity and profitability. But right now the human element of your workforce needs to be bumped to a top priority.”
Like MacArthur, I believe this should be done through one-on-one check ins which allows personal matters to be discussed in private.
5) Keep it Up After Containment
This pandemic may be occurring in a vacuum (I really hope so), but better communication and more compassion shouldn’t. I’ve heard that what we’re experiencing right now is the new normal, but I disagree. The new normal will happen after COVID-19 is contained, and if we can sustain these best practices, we’ll all be better off.