How to communicate with employees during a crisis

How to communicate with employees during a crisis

By Leigh Lindsey
April 8, 2020

For the last few weeks, our inboxes have been filled with messages from every business we ever visited about their approach to COVID-19. Those consumer-facing messaging are often needed, and brands can’t be silent indefinitely.

It’s equally important, if not more so, to invest time and resources in communicating with your employees. Here are a few tried-and-true tactics for ensuring your internal communications efforts are successful during a time that feels uncertain at best.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
It’s tempting to limit what you share with employees when things are uncertain, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s impossible to know what situation your company will be facing from one hour to the next. 

Resist the temptation to under-communicate. Now more than ever, your employees need to hear from you. Be transparent about the challenges facing your business and customers, and don’t hesitate to admit that you don’t have all the answers. 

Commit to your team that they will hear from you regularly, and consider setting a cadence for that communication. Evaluate your typical frequency and type of communication, and build on that until you find a rhythm that works for your staff. For your employees, knowing when they will receive updates gives them peace of mind and a sense of connection and stability in a tumultuous time.

For most employees, being heard is critical to morale. It may take some creativity; but there are lots of ways to make that happen, even now. Options include hosting virtual town halls, creating programs for employees to funnel up concerns to senior team members, and instituting standing one-on-one check-in calls or Zoom meetings. 

Keep in mind that sharing ideas and concerns can be intimidating. Provide opportunities in as many formats as possible to give your team members options they feel comfortable with.

Find the Good
Make sure to share the good things happening in your organization. Did someone go above and beyond for a customer? Come up with a creative new approach? Celebrate that, and share it with others. Encourage leaders in your organization to regularly praise and thank their colleagues for hard work and jobs well done. 

Celebrate personal milestones with your employees, too, including birthdays, work anniversaries and more. Consider sending personal emails and mailing handwritten notes since you can’t be in the office to recognize important moments in person. 

Be Empathetic
Each of your employees is dealing with new challenges, whether that’s worrying about reduced income, loneliness, balancing work while schools and day care centers are closed, or supporting elderly and immunocompromised family members. There are significant disappointments as well – delayed weddings, canceled trips and events, upended holidays; the list goes on. On top of that, many of them may have a loved one who is ill or going through the process of being tested for coronavirus. Each of us deals with and experiences these challenges differently. Patience and kindness are key. 

Doubling down on effective communication with your employees now will pay dividends for your business in the long haul. Please get in touch if you have specific questions about internal communications or any other COVID-19-related communications needs.