4 March 2020

Coronavirus: 5 ways to keep employees updated

Our top tips for managing COVID-19 comms

As the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, it’s no wonder that speculation and concern is also mounting. Whilst the primary concern is always on protecting people’s health, there is also a very real threat to businesses across the globe

If public health advice is recommending ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’, how do businesses keep employees informed, reassured and ultimately, still performing when there’s palpable social anxiety in the air?

Here are 5 things businesses can do now to keep employees updated about Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. Rely on the facts

During times of uncertainty or crisis, it’s important to rely on the facts. Keep communication informative, balanced and easy to understand. Steer clear of jargon and be mindful that you use credible sources of information. In the case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), that’s gov.uk, Public Health England, and the NHS.

  1. One place to go

Make it easy for employees to find the information they need to answer their work-related Coronavirus (COVID-19) questions. How? Make sure there’s one place to go and everyone knows about it. Maybe it’s a dedicated area on your intranet or an open group on Workplace. Whatever you choose, just make sure everyone can access it.

  1. Anticipate and answer all the questions

There’s a lot of speculation about this virus and little certainty. Whilst you may not have all of the answers, it’s important to anticipate all the possible questions your employees may have and then try and answer them.

Draft your key messages and scenarios from the business – what is the message? who’s delivering it?, what is the scenario now? and what is the scenario/message if a member of your workforce is unwell, or in fact, has the virus.

Be honest about what you know and what you don’t. Employees need to feel reassured and they’ll only feel that way if they can trust you.

  1. Make sure your policies are working for you, not against you

Some scenario planning is suggesting that at the peak of the crisis there could be 1 in 5 employees off sick with the virus. How would your business cope under that pressure? Can employees work from home? Can you connect over video conference? Now is the time to make sure your HR policies are enabling work to continue, not holding you back.

  1. Maintain a steady rhythm of communication

As with all crisis comms, it’s essential that you maintain a steady rhythm of communication. What’s your comms plan? Make it regular and reliable. Like clockwork. Even when there’s nothing new to say, still communicate. It suggests that you’re in control and have a plan. That will bring some reassurance to employees. Our toolkit below might help.

Getting you started?

If you’re thinking seriously about how you can keep employees updated during this time, do follow these tips. Specifically, we’re helping some of our clients with:

  • Advice – with a 1-2-1 call with Jess, our crisis comms expert in our strategy team
  • Messaging matrix – to ensure a consistent message is delivered across the organisation
  • Scenario communications – e.g. working from home, travelling for work, colleagues feeling unwell and if a colleague becomes infected
  • Internal comms plan – ready to go
  • Coronavirus comms toolkit – including print and digital assets to start educating colleagues straight away

If you’re not sure where to start and want some confidential support or advice, drop us a note on chris@mccannsynergy.com or call 0117 962 1534.

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