We’re experiencing a time like no other, and the constant updates on the coronavirus worldwide can feel all-consuming.
For organisations, this is the time to have open, transparent and two-way communication channels with employees to ensure all concerns and worries are addressed. Ask yourself these questions to understand how you’re fairing so far:
How are you facilitating those conversations?
Have you got a mixture of ways to have these conversations with your people? It’s important to open all lines of communication so that your employees can choose what is most comfortable to them.
Some may want to pop questions over an email or are happy to ask as part of company or team meetings. But you may have some employees who’d prefer to be more discreet – especially with questions on financial worries or fear for a loved one – and would only feel comfortable speaking to their line manager. You must empower those in people management roles to gather concerns so you can tackle them together.
How often are you checking in?
There’s a balance to be had with how often you communicate on coronavirus. On the one hand, you must show that this is a critical issue for the organisation and you’re taking every necessary action, and on the other not let this issue dominate the whole business. The situation is ever-changing and it’s worth creating check-in points for your management team to ensure you’re communicating the right information at the right time. Likewise, you need clear and fast communication paths should you need to communicate something quickly – for example, requesting all your employees to work from home.
Where to go for information?
The UK government is continually updating its guidance to employers. There are clear recommendations on the prevention of coronavirus spread, what to do if an employee falls ill, certifying absence of employees and a lot more. This is by far the best spot to answer questions on specific practical questions around the coronavirus.
So, that’s the practicalities, what about the emotional side?
Organisations are likely to experience a lot of anxiety amongst their workforce. It’s a turbulent environment, and there is a lot to think through, but overlooking the mental health of employees could be very damaging.
There will be a multitude of thoughts going through people’s minds – from personal health fears to financial worries, you must have a grasp on all concerns big and small.
The more that’s left unaddressed, the more likely your employees will become disengaged with work, which will impact productivity levels. You can’t offer reassurance on every aspect of a person’s life, but you can listen and show you’re trying to help.
In times of uncertainty, clear and regular communication is vital. Anything left unsaid or unaddressed can fester and create a negative impact amongst your workforce.
But also know that you can’t have every answer to every question, the key is knowing what’s on people’s minds and showing that you’re taking it all very seriously.