The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is unprecedented and has far-reaching implications for organizations across industries and around the world. While some businesses have had to temporarily shut down, others are scrambling to hire new employees to meet increased demand for their goods or services.
No matter the type of business you operate, a crisis such as the one at hand leaves employees with a lot of questions. Now more than ever, it’s critical to ensure you have a proactive, transparent employee communications strategy in place. Below, we’ve outlined several tips to help ensure you’re getting employees the information they need during uncertain times.
1. Communicate often and maintain transparency
The last thing any employee wants at an uncertain time such as the COVID-19 outbreak is to feel as though they are being left in the dark. First and foremost, it’s important to be upfront and transparent with employees. Outline the situation at hand and how it impacts your business – along with any changes your organization might be making to adapt.
Beyond maintaining transparency, your team should make sure to communicate early and often. Company-wide communications should come from trusted sources such as a leadership team member or HR. Send out all-company emails as you have updates, letting employees know you understand the times are stressful and next steps for your organization.
Beyond email, outline other forms of communication you can leverage to keep employees updated at all times – including centralizing relevant resources on an internal drive, tapping into a messaging platform like Slack or hosting all-company meetings.
At Hireology, a weekly all company huddle has always been part of our business operations. About several dozen of our employees are permanent remote employees. But with the transition to all-remote work, we’ve embraced the weekly Tuesday morning huddle – now held via video conference – as an opportunity to update employees on the current state of the company, key wins and opportunities over the past week and what to expect in the near future.
We’ve also opened the door for employees to reach out to the leadership team and ask any questions or express concerns. In our first weekly huddle after the entire team started working remotely, we presented it as somewhat of a town hall format and encouraged employees to submit questions. As many questions as possible were answered during the huddle and the leadership team followed up with written responses in a Q&A format.
While nobody can predict how long this pandemic will last or the impact it will have on each individual business long-term, it’s critical to keep employees informed each step of the way – and be transparent in all your communications. Your team might not have all the answers to every question right away, but you can show employees they’re valued and taken care of by keeping communication flowing as you have updates.
2. Reiterate your core values
Organizations with intentional core values turn to these values to navigate difficult times, celebrate wins and drive business decisions for everything in between. To keep your team members motivated during a crisis, it’s important to remind them of your core values and how these core values can help your team do great work even in uncertain times.
The first step we took when starting Hireology was creating intentional core values. On the first meeting agenda we ever set as an organization 10 years ago, the first item on that agenda was discussing and setting our core values. Making core values a priority, we set out to decide who we wanted to be, how we wanted to conduct ourselves as a business, and how envisioned our company culture – before deciding on other important aspects of the business. Hireology’s core values include: create wow moments, eager to improve, own the result, no assholes and pathological optimism.
One of our core values mentioned above is “pathological optimism.” The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and businesses around the world and across industries face monumental challenges as a result. But keeping our core value of pathological optimism in mind, we have the right mindset to put our best foot forward and overcome these challenges.
The core value “create wow moments” comes from an understanding that the difference between mediocre or just merely good, and truly exceptional customer experience comes from just a little bit of incremental effort. Now more than ever, everyone needs to support one another to navigate these uncertain times and determine next steps to ensure they have the right people in place to support their business.
Hireology is in the business of creating wow moments and now is a critical time to find opportunities where we can create wow moments for fellow colleagues, customers, partners and the general public.
Think about the core values and overall culture your organization has in place. As you determine steps your team will take to overcome challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic – or any other crises that might come your way – keep your culture, company mission and core values top-of-mind to drive your business decisions.
3. Encourage continuous communication across your team
While situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic mean you’re not running your business as usual, your organization should attempt to stick to your normal schedule and keep up your cadence of communication when possible.
If your team is working remotely and has certain weekly recurring meetings on the calendar, you can still hold these meetings and turn them into a video conference. Or, if a teammate has a question for a colleague that he or she would usually ask in person, encourage them to set up a quick video call. Some teams at Hireology have even set up daily all-team video calls or daily one-on-ones between managers and direct reports.
Not only can improved communications ensure your team is set up for success when they’re away from the office, but it can also help employees avoid feeling isolating while they’re doing their part to practice social distancing at this time.
The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are changing rapidly, and no organization can predict how long the pandemic will continue to have an impact on business operations. By following the steps outlined here, your team can more effectively communicate with employees each step of the way.