In the past two weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Lockdowns were issued for densely populated communities such as Italy, New York, and California. Schools have closed down and most businesses have sent their employees to work from home. Just early this week, we are beginning to see a wave of layoffs ranging from travel, hospitality, and various industries. Fear starts to spread, closely followed by these questions: Is my job secure? How will I provide for my family? How long will this go on?
In uncertain situations, many employers may get asked questions they don’t have the answers to. Like many of us, they too are taking things day by day. Throughout this pandemic or with any crisis, it is best to communicate early and as clearly as possible. Approach it with empathy to understand your employees’ fears and anxiety.
Creating an effective communication plan is the first step in making sure your employees receive timely and accurate news. Provide your employees access to reputable information from the CDC, WHO, and your County Health Departments. Businesses can also demystify fears by carefully outlining the steps being taken to make sure all employees are safe and healthy. What steps can your business take to ensure all the information is relayed effectively to your employees? To promote preventive actions that the employees can take for hygiene and safety, employers can post memos or posters around the worksite. These reminders can help immensely if they are posted in areas that employees usually frequent such as the pantry or time clock terminal. Before anything else as well, company policies in crisis situations should also be communicated early to the employees such as work-from-home, travel, and healthcare policies.
Most especially during this time, we thank all the employees who keep society running such as delivery truck drivers, grocery manufacturers, security, healthcare workers, and more. Aside from communicating guidelines, we must also express our gratitude towards these employees who continue to go to work despite the risks and uncertainties.
The current lockdowns and restrictions placed on businesses has caused a radical change in the global market in the past few weeks, threatening a potential recession. The volatility of the situation and businesses making snap decisions most likely has your clients scrambling to keep their doors open. Are my workers safe? If someone gets infected, will I lose my business?
During these trying times, it’s important to reassure clients with clear and transparent communication. Here is how to communicate with clients during these difficult times:
1. Maintain regular communication. Videoconferencing is a great tool as it avoids clients having to visit physical locations and endangering their own health and safety.
2. Share information firsthand. Clients are bound to hear information from the newspaper, social media, and tv. It is more than likely that these messages of panic will sink in. To avoid unnecessary panic and confusion, it is better for clients to hear the message directly from you.
3. Stay proactive. Although it’s very difficult to calculate future decisions, it is best to stay one step ahead for clients so they know that you are keeping things within control. That means having to run daily reports and on-demand recruiting to assure them that operations are being maintained.
Remind Employees About Available Benefits
Aside from the threat to physical health, COVID-19 also threatens an employee’s mental and emotional health. With the news of layoffs happening left and right, employees right now are constantly in fear of losing their job. If the virus does not kill them, their fear is that going bankrupt will. To assist their citizens and ease the panic, the US government is constantly sharing information about the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In your own organization, it is also important to share any resources you have set in place to assist employees during these trying times. Examples of these benefits are family and medical leaves, paid time off options, discrimination policies, and health benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread nationwide and according to top health official Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US has not yet peaked in terms of cases. Accordingly, it is important for employers to communicate with their employees, take safety precautions, monitor and share communication, and plan and prepare beforehand.