Workplace Culture

How to strengthen workforce communications during the COVID-19 crisis

By Jana Reserva

Mar. 19, 2020

COVID-19. coronavirus, empty street
Remote work is surging as a response to COVID-19. Constant, unambiguous communication is more important than ever.

Communication is at the heart of every sound workforce management practice.

From establishing clear expectations, setting a bigger purpose, building company culture down to fostering accountability, communication will always be at the core . Clearly messaged, trusted communication can either make or break operations and enhance employee engagement.

A study by The Economist Intelligence Unit shows how poor workplace communication is detrimental to an organization. Survey respondents say that communication barriers result in delay or failure to complete projects (44 percent), low morale (31 percent), missed performance goals (25 percent), and lost sales (18 percent). And it can be worse when a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic hits. 

Clear communication is crucial to stability 

Effective communication becomes even more critical during times of crisis and uncertainty. 

Workforces globally are facing a massive challenge to their business operations with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has prompted businesses to take drastic measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers alike. Depending on the nature of the business, some have ceased operations or function under a skeleton workforce and limited hours, while other organizations have implemented work from home arrangements. 

Effective communication can still bind your team together.

Given the shifting workplace situation, effective workforce communications are more critical than ever. A crisis, whether a natural disaster, a corporate meltdown or the outbreak of a disease affects employee morale. Effective communication can still bind your team together even during times of uncertainty. Leaders need to do their part to address issues promptly and clearly. 

It’s also important to note that social media and online platforms can turn employees into de facto spokespeople for your organization. Whatever they share on their platforms about working for your company will reflect how you communicate with them. Those communications — or lack of a clear, consistent message — can result in a better brand image or sprout into a new crisis. 

So how can leaders effectively address their staff during a challenging time? 

Act fast

When a crisis strikes, it’s essential to address employees as soon as possible.

Leaders might not have answers to some of their questions right away. In the case of rapidly developing situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, this is understandable. But it’s crucial to let employees know that you are looking into the issue and finding solutions to their concerns. What matters is to give them the assurance that the organization is aware of the situation and that the welfare of staff is  a priority.

Solidify the message

Consistent messaging is key. While different roles have different concerns, it’s essential to keep the overall message continuous and consistent. 

Address all of their concerns and frequently asked questions. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the questions will revolve around remote work, schedule changes, payment arrangements, leave management and other operational issues.

Read more: What employers need to know about coronavirus and the workplace

Diversify message delivery

How you relay the message is equally important as how it is crafted. 

Empathy is important during a crisis, but what if face-to-face communication is no longer possible? 

Video conferencing or a recorded video message are viable options, but how do you let staff know about it? Email is a common communication channel for organizations, but it’s best to diversify delivery channels when the situation is urgent. In a 2019 survey by text-messaging platform SlickText of over 1,000 employees across the United States, 43 percent of respondents say that timely notifications and emergency alerts are best sent through SMS and not email. Chat platforms  also are useful in this case as they can quickly  disseminate information and concisely. Employees are likely to open chat platforms frequently, too. 

Keep the feedback loop open

Effective communication to staff goes beyond issuing announcements or bulletins. It’s about keeping communication lines open and soliciting feedback. 

During a crisis, it’s imperative to open channels for discussions and to raise questions. Chat applications are suitable not just for discussing in groups but in one-on-one correspondence as well. It’s more immediate than email too and helps pass information more quickly. 

See how it works: Workforce.com’s employee app includes chat features.

A platform to stay connected

A good communication process is vital for any organization. It’s important to equip a workforce with different ways to stay connected. 

Thanks to technology, employers and staff can still stay connected. But a more effective approach is to keep all necessary communication in one place. A workforce management system provides crucial features to stay on top of operations and team communications. 

For Workforce.com users there are features on our platform available to keep communication lines open during this difficult time. Chat with your staff, schedule according to operational changes, manage leave, clock in and out remotely, and communicate changes through custom events, among other things. 

COVID-19 is rapidly changing how businesses operate. We recognize that organizations need an extra helping hand right now. So we’re offering our platform for free to new sign-ups over the coming months. Sign up today and our Workforce Success team will gladly provide a personal, online walkthrough of our platform to help you get started.

Jana Reserva is a content manager for Workforce.com.

About Workforce.com

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