Put Your People First: How Communication Can Guide Organizations Through Crisis

The current Coronavirus pandemic has forced organizations to reassess priorities and make changes that will reduce the spread of the virus and protect employees, their families and the wider community. With this, many non-essential businesses have shifted to remote operations. This change has been important for our health, but has caused a disruption in the way we interact with our colleagues and how we get work done, shaking up our workspaces, routines and productivity levels as a result.

During this time, HR leaders are being called upon to guide their organizations and put in place new ways to unite teams, show employees support and ultimately create resilient organizations. This is easier said than done, however.

Read More: Managing Employee Relations Remotely: Tips For Navigating Issues During The COVID-19 Crisis

In this uncharted territory, leaders may not know what to prioritize in order to best support their teams. There are, however, a number of ways to offer support to employees throughout a crisis that I’ll outline in this series, such as communication, employee recognition and planning for the future.

Though the future is definitely unpredictable, organizations can put their best foot forward by developing healthy employee-employer relations and building a strong foundation on which to further strengthen company culture.

One of the most critical things business leaders can do right now is to communicate openly, honestly and as often as possible with employees, and one of the best ways to do so is through a unified, consolidated platform for communication, recognition and benefits. Here’s how your organization can make this a reality.

Communicating Effectively

In a remote work environment, communication is an important facet of employee well-being and engagement. During these times, it’s critical that leaders are intentional about creating connections that previously would have happened as a matter of course.

Our clients have seen success by maintaining visibility, as well as asking for and listening to employee feedback.  Being visible using written messages or video helps create a level of normalcy for a business and provides employees with the direction they need during this time. When it comes to employee feedback and perspective, leaders are able to make adjustments to the programs they have to support their people and make sure they are communicating the right information to their people.

Maintaining consistent, back-and-forth communication is integral to employees feeling supported and confident in their leaders and organization. Because there is much uncertainty today, the best thing a leader can do is tell their people that they will keep them informed as early as possible.

Things leaders and employers should consider regularly communicating about is employee health and safety, the latest organizational decisions regarding operations, reminders about mission and strategy that still rings true, stories of success within and across departments, examples of how leaders focusing on well-being and transparent example of when their personal balance between work and life is on track and doesn’t work.

Read More: Top 10 HR Collaboration Tools That Can Help Boost Remote Work And Collaborative Efforts

Technology plays an integral role and HR leaders must assess their existing communication, collaboration and employee engagement tools. While success can be found in common activities such as all-hands meetings, company-wide emails, instant messaging channels and video chats, employers can also look to a consolidated employee engagement platform that leverages blogs to offer support and provide pertinent information in a timely fashion to all employees. In fact, since this time last year, we’ve seen a 560 percent increase in readership for our client’s blogs created on the Reward Gateway platform.

Additionally, crisis communications should be developed and planned in a particular way in order to be clear, comprehensible and specific to an employee base.

The first step is to ensure that the leadership team is meeting frequently enough that their formal communications will mirror what they are saying and showing with their actions. One client stated that, “90% of the job of our leadership team right now has become communications.” Additionally, being timely is more important than having “perfect” content, when developing these communications, leaders should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are my communications available to employees?
  • Are my communications flexible, or editable, in case things change?
  • Are my communications engaging – that is, do they make use of multimedia?
  • Are my communications immediate?
  • Are my communications tailored to my audience(s)?
  • Are my communications centralized?

In doing so, organizations should ensure employees are providing their honest feedback, so leaders can gather insights and further optimize and refine their crisis communications approach as the situation progresses. This is a time of open two-way conversation, honesty and collaboration, and without feedback an organization cannot present the best solutions for its people.

Creating Multiple Opportunities for Daily Communication

Remote workdays have a tendency to blur together, becoming a quiet, confusing and isolating time for many. Managers across teams can work to ease this reality for employees by building time into each day to communicate and touch base on the day ahead. Some helpful tactics to do so include virtual drop-in sessions with HR and business leaders, regular casual phone calls to check-in and even the use of a buddy system to ensure connections are being made across teams. Leaders can also look into setting up regular calendar invites during meal-times to connect over food – one of the greatest unifiers – or putting in place regular, quick, informal standup meetings to keep a pulse on your people. These suggestions don’t have to cost money, and can be handled online or offline.

Read More: TecHRseries Interview With Bill Smith, Manager And HR Business Partner, BitTitan

While employees are dispersed, it’s crucial for HR leaders to ensure that a central place  for communications, recognition and benefits not only exists, but is easily accessible for all. Within a platform like this, teams can communicate easily in one, consolidated location, and can also receive and give praise, recognition and rewards to one another. What’s more, having easily accessible wellness benefits and discounts included within this platform can consolidate everything employees need to access.

As HR teams and business leaders continue to navigate this challenging time, it’s important to stick together and continue to communicate. Adjusting to this new world of work will be strange and, at times, disorienting, but teams can make it through by remaining united and supporting each other.

Next, business leaders will need to continue facilitating the adjustment process, helping workers become acclimated to the temporary (yet lengthy) remote work period…

[To share your insights, please write to us at sghosh@martechseries.com]