Internal Crisis Communication During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The value of Internal Communication during a crisis
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading globally at an incredible rate. New cases are being recorded daily by doctors via regular updates from our government. The virus is also an issue for our economy as a whole. Businesses are beginning to feel the impacts on turnover, with many having to close down and furlough their employees.
But where does that leave the employees now working from home and the employees working on the frontline?
How does a business manage to instantly share the information its employees need to do their jobs when they are now scattered or working different shift patterns? How do you keep the workplace productivity high and team collaboration strong when your teams have been disrupted? And how do you engage with your employees when their world has turned upside down?
Internal crisis communication has never been more important.
Lisa Ross, COO of Edelman in the U.S has said:
A cadence of credible info… Now that’s some smashing fancy talk for a Friday! Essentially your internal crisis communication needs to be a regular, probably more than normal, feed of information on what is going on and how important each employee’s role is in the businesses survival.
Your internal crisis communication needs to offer guidance
COVID-19 is changing internal communication and employee engagement. Your workforce could be feeling isolated and alone. They will have questions. “What’s going on?”, “will I still have a job at the end of all this?”, “will I lose my job if this lockdown carries on too long?”. Internal communication will play a vital role in handling these questions and keeping your employees focussed and on track.
Whilst your employees are working remotely or different the opportunity for “fake news” to feed into the business is high. Private WhatsApp chats and Microsoft Teams messaging will be spreading stories and gossip. You need a solid platform and strategy in place to stub out the negativity with updates and news on positivity and truth.
So what should you do?
These are my 3 top tips on how to manage your internal crisis communication:
Right Place - Right time
Hanging notices in the staff room doesn’t cut it anymore, neither do intranet updates that are locked away behind company firewalls. You need to send out timely messages on a regular basis on a platform every one of your employees has access too at home. 13% of employees use their company intranet and 2 in 3 employees ignore email newsletters through email fatigue.
Your employees will have questions and if you do not answer them – fake news will! Use regular surveys and polls to gauge feeling and allow your employees a mechanism to ask questions and air their concerns.
How do you know if your internal communication is effective if you don’t track it? You need to be able see if your employees are reading your updates and which content generates the most reads and questions. These important metrics form the building blocks of future campaigns and updates and will help you evolve your internal crisis communication to maximise its effectiveness.
Bon Jovi loving, social media junkie and F1 fan. I spend most of my time thinking about the impact technology is having on our society and the world of internal communications. And my pug Winston…