A Time of Uncertainty: Employee Communication Planning during COVID-19
By Claire Carroll, Associate Strategist & Campaign Manager, InVision Communications
During a time of uncertainty, more communication and connectedness is required, not less. With an abundance of confusion around what’s next, employees need support beyond logistical and tactical updates. At InVision, we recommend our clients build out an employee engagement plan that focuses on three key areas: compassion, motivation, and connection.
The health and safety of employees remains a top priority for businesses, while the health and safety of loved ones remains a top priority for employees. We recommend using two-way communication efforts (e.g., surveys, phone interviews, and social listening) to understand the landscape of employee concern. Understand your workforce, and use communication to address these newfound trepidations with a compassionate tone. While the effects of the coronavirus outbreak will eventually subside, there will be a lasting impact on corporate culture. According to Forbes Magazine, 96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to drive employee retention, employers must listen, and use compassion to respond.
For many employees the COVID-19 outbreak has shifted their way of working. The office manager is now remote, the bi-costal employee is stagnant, and the remote worker has a newly full household. No matter the case, it’s easy to become distracted when a routine is halted. Businesses must provide ‘bite sized’ content that complements the new ways of working to keep employees motivated. A few things to keep in mind:
- Keep it short – With short videos or podcasts you can capture key messages from employees and leadership alike. Be sure to include a form of measurement to track employee engagements/clicks/downloads.
- Keep it up to date – In some cases, our client’s office culture and the real-time communication that surrounds an office space has been halted. Define a single hosting platform to post the most up-to-date information and update it frequently.
- Keep it business centric – Re-share immediate, short-term and long-term business priorities. Use a dashboard to provide real-time updates on how employees are tracking on these goals.
Technology increases the ability to connect, however, just because the platforms are there, doesn’t mean employees are leveraging them to boost engagement. Consider implementing a virtual networking program, pairing small groups of remote colleagues together, and encouraging them to share and learn from one another on a daily basis. Build bridges between departments, breakdown pre-existing silos, and connect employees with similar interests.
In addition to facilitating a virtual networking ecosystem, be sure to tie communication efforts to your corporate culture. Would you describe your company as innovative, flexible, and casual or driven, motivating, and nimble? Assess your corporate culture and use a reflective tone in your communication messages and mediums. Doing so will provide employees both a sense of familiarity and unity during this time.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, these best practices will remain relevant in the upheaval many employees and employers are experiencing. Think beyond logistics, and use compassion and connectedness to keep your workforce motivated and engaged.
We’ve created a communications matrix and roadmap framework to help clients navigate through this process. For further information on how we can help deliver on an employee engagement plan for your company, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.