When mumblings first began of coronavirus, aka COVID-19, earlier this year, none of us could have ever imagined the impact it would have on the world.
In the span of just a few weeks it has become an all-consuming global public health crisis. And in the wake of this crisis businesses have closed down, grocery stores have bare shelves, and thousands of people have been ordered to stay home.
A pandemic coupled with an 'infodemic'
It seems like there is a never-ending barrage of information about the virus everywhere you look; the news, radio stations, social media and more. The problem is even with all of this information being thrown at us, there is still a lot of uncertainty. A large part of this uncertainty is from employees wondering what the proper steps to take are now that many organizations have implemented mandatory work from home policies, or closed completely.
It’s up to organizations to ensure their employees and internal teams are well informed on what to expect during this public health crisis. So here is how your organization can improve employee communications during this pandemic:
1) Be transparent & communicate clearly, early on
Communication and transparency are more important now than ever before. Provide your employees with daily updates letting them know you are monitoring the situation and what steps you’ve taken so far to ensure safety.
In the event employees have to work from home for an extended period of time, create an internal communication process for reaching them. This can be through email, instant messaging, video meeting platforms or whatever other methods you use. Once you’ve identified an internal communication channel, stick to just one for consistency so employees know that is the channel for all things work-related.
2) Ensure work from home environments are comfortable & feasible
If you didn’t already have a work from home policy in place, you may have had to implement one on the fly. And for many employees, this could be their first time ever working from home.
As an organization, make sure your employees have an adequate work-from-home environment. If they don’t, ask them what you can do to help them work efficiently and effectively from home. In many cases, you’ll need to allow them to take their office equipment home, such as chairs, additional monitors, headsets, etc.
3) Check-in with employees regularly to ensure mental wellbeing
Many cities, such as Vancouver, have introduced city-wide ‘social distancing’ to get ahead of potential country-wide shutdowns (re: Italy). We’re encouraged to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
As mentioned previously, this could be a first for many workers. It’s important to check-in and virtually socialize with employees/colleagues as part of your internal communications strategy. For people living alone, social distancing and self-quarantine could mean no human interaction whatsoever.
Staying connected even through instant messaging will help ease the ‘stir crazy’ feeling and boost your employee’s mental wellbeing.