Employee Communication During A Crisis

In any crisis situation, employers have to consider not only what to say to employees but when. Add to those elements the subtle nuances of language and delivery and employers end up not communicating at all. As we face the current Pandemic and the dual impact of health and financial concerns together, American companies are looking for guidance in their employee-facing messages. What should the goals of employee communication be right now? How can we humanize our messaging and make sure it's relevant (and not redundant)?  Helping with this challenge is Projections' COO, Jennifer Orechwa our guest for this week's episode of ProjectHR. 

We Discuss The Following Topics About Crisis Communication

  • What to communicate with employees, and when;
  • How to be authentic and empathetic during times of uncertainty;
  • What employers should NOT be saying to employees now; and
  • Tools and resources for crafting and delivering these vital messages.

If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free!

How should employers communicate with team members during a crisis?

  • It’s essential to communicate with team members and to humanize that conversation
  • Empathize while remaining positive. This demonstrates that you understand the crisis itself and can still see a bright future ahead
  • Communicate around the things you know your employees are concerned with and get personal. 
  • Answer their unasked questions
  • Goals for employee communication are two-fold: provide reassurance and build trust for the future
  • Be sure that the frequency matches the tone and relevance of your message.
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What role should supervisors play in crisis communications?

  • Supervisors are the ones dealing with the effects of this crisis on employees - the emotional, logistical, and financial impact
  • Make sure your front-line leaders understand the company's approach to connecting with employees 
  • Remind your leaders to support the company’s effort with calm, care and understanding.
  • Supervisors need their own communication resources to feel supported 
    • Dedicated website just for leaders to get information
    • Provide a direct line to upper management to handle questions
  • Times of crisis are when real leaders emerge

How can we connect with employees?

  • Offer two-way communication channels to get feedback
  • Answer questions employees are asking
  • Post employee “Frequently Asked Questions” online for reference
  • Offer online training opportunities to provide new skills and resources for post-crisis growth

What tone and language should we be using with employees in times of crisis?

  • Be authentic! 
  • Teach front-line leaders to use positive, forward-thinking language.
  • Be realistic, but avoid communicating fear or negativity
  • Encourage employees to lean into healthy connections and focus on information-based solutions.
  • Focus on forward-thinking, action-oriented words
  • Instead of saying “our concern,” choose to say "our opportunity" 

What should employers NOT say or do?

  • Don’t be a nameless, faceless corporation
  • Don’t repeat the same news items employees are hearing from government or health officials
  • Keep your opinions about the crisis, or the handling of it to yourself
  • Don’t get on any kind of soapbox
  • Avoid negative language such as “problem,” “concern” or “worry”

Remote Workers

  • Establish tools and protocols for remote work upfront
  • Make sure remote workers don’t feel isolated
  • Be flexible - remember employees are dealing with this crisis at home, too

Communication Solutions

Caring for Employees In Times of Crisis

  • Offer local resources (child care, etc.) to meet employee needs
  • Get creative, gift Instacart, or a meal delivery service
  • Offer DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub to support employees working at home

Links

 

Contact 

Let’s Connect! Linked In

Jennifer Orechwa

Jennifer Orechwa


COO, Projections

"Empathize with your employees, because knowing that you're vulnerable and are still staying positive can give your team the confidence to pull through the crisis, building trust in the process." -Jennifer Orechwa #HRpodcast #CrisisCommunication

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About the Author Jacqueline Gregory

As a creative, persuasive communications professional with extensive experience guiding projects from concept through completion Jacqui has produced custom communications for some of the world's best known brands. Producing ProjectHR has been one of her favorite ways to engage and delight HR and Labor Relations professionals!

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