I recently had a conversation with a close friend who was sharing some frustrations regarding his “essential job” and COVID-19. He expressed how his company was not providing clear guidance on protective measures and how its leadership team was not responsive to employee concerns.

As my friend continued, I realized he was not only frustrated with his employer; he was hurt. He explained how he and many co-workers tried to contact human resources with their concerns but could only do so by email. Very few heard back and those who did found the replies inadequate.

Many organizations have likely experienced concerns of their own and strive to communicate effectively with staff. During a pandemic, when information is changing rapidly, the struggle for clear and effective communication can be even more difficult to maintain.

We have provided some key practices all organizations should follow as part of their crisis management response while taking care of the human side of crisis.

Crisis management best practices

  • Communicate clearly and consistently. It’s important for leadership teams to let employees know what is expected. For many employees, fear and anxiety stem from the unknown. You can reduce these concerns by communicating through daily emails, virtual meetings or phone calls. And when employees ask questions you cannot answer, let them know you’ll work to provide the needed information—and follow through.
  • Equip your human resources department on how to answer frequently asked questions. Employers need to make sure their HR and management teams have the information they need to address employees’ concerns. Leadership teams should also provide a safe and supportive environment for employees to express their concerns.
  • Realize each employee is different. Remind your HR and management teams that the pandemic and its fallout impact every employee differently. Just as we all react to stress in different ways, employees may have different reactions or viewpoints regarding the pandemic.
  • Review your business continuity plan. Make sure your business continuity plan addresses pandemics or widespread infectious diseases. Review your policies and procedures to make sure they align with recommended guidelines.
  • Monitor supplies and equipment. Make sure you can adequately provide personal protective equipment for your staff. Your plans should also include emergency order contacts in the event supplies are limited.
  • Review your remote work policies and plan for the transition to the office. This may include a phased approach that allows for recommended social distancing practices to be met. Communicate these plans and expectations to your workforce.

Take care of your team

In a crisis, your organization and workforce can come together or fall apart. By helping your management teams communicate more effectively with employees, everyone becomes more empowered and resilient. This, in turn, leads to a stronger and more resilient workplace.

FEI has been providing workforce resilience solutions and crisis management services to businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more about our crisis management services.