Staff Communication… why it’s more important than ever right now for your business

Now that the shock of what is occurring in Australia has sunk in and you begin to process the impact to your business and what actions need to be taken, now is the time to step up the communication to your team.

In times like these, we tend to focus on plugging holes, looking for ways to minimise the impact, however it’s important not to forget your people.  Without our teams, many of us wouldn’t have a business.

The past few weeks have been devastating for many, however, how you talk to and manage your staff during this crisis period, will directly impact how well you ensure worker safety, minimize damage to your brand, return your workforce to productivity and build trust among employees.

Your employees will play a major role in how fast and how well your business recovers from this crisis, and they’ll also be the first contact with customers as recovery occurs.

And, the thing to remember here, is that this situation will end at some point.   It’s going to be horrendously tough and it will be most likely look different from what it was, but it will end.

This is why clear and ongoing communication with your team is so important. 

Employees need to know what’s going on, what’s expected of them, what happens now and what will happen next. This can help them regain some sense of normalcy when their world had been turned upside down. 

It’s also going to be important to talk timeframes.   None of us really know right now just how long this situation will go on for.   Focus on short term goals and what you can control in your business.  Work month to month to begin with.  That way you can review and set up for the next period, if no further major announcements have been made.

So how do you do this when you yourself are stressed, worried, anxious and have more questions than answers yourself?

Write down what you want to say – this is an easy way to get out exactly the messages you need to with less chance of emotions taking over.  It will also help you deliver your messages more confidently.

What type of information do you put in these messages?

  • Be supportive and hopeful, but don’t make false promises
  • Thank them for their patience and flexibility
  • Don’t forget to recognise your employees for being part of this new way of working and their ongoing contributions
  • Let employees know that you have a crisis plan and explain how it affects them
  • Establish a clear communication plan
    • When you will send updates – best to have the same times and days each day/week
    • Office hours for the days/weeks ahead (including modified or regular schedules)
    • How often they need to update your or their supervisor – establish check-in days/times
    • Reiterate policies on flexible working arrangements, working from home, staggered shifts etc (if these are options in your business)
    • Alert employees of any policy changes regarding business travel
    • Have ways for staff to respond to your messages – this ensures:
      • They can let you know that they are safe and well
      • They can let you know if they need support of some kind
        • Allow time to listen to staff if they have fears/concerns

How do you get these messages out, if you have people in the office, working from home, split shifts, etc?

Thanks to today’s technology, there are a huge range of ways you can communicate with your staff including:

  • Video conferencing – Zoom, Skype
  • Emails
  • Texts
  • Intranet Messages

Once this situation passes and it will, make the time to talk to employees and talk through what worked and what could have done better and incorporate this feedback into your newly created Crisis Plan.

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