Communication has the power to minimise risk, drive engagement and productivity, connect people, and in turn create better business outcomes.
During a times of crisis, it is more critical than ever.
Organisations that come out of the Covid-19 storm, on the right side, will be those who have brought their people with them on the journey. They will be open and honest around the changing situation and provide the support, connectivity and guidance to ensure that their people are agile to the changing nature of the world, engaged, and committed to the success of the business.
It’s important to make sure that communication is front and centre, and not seen as an afterthought. Here are some key considerations:
Honesty builds trust
Being clear, open and transparent is critical. Now more than ever, as a leader, if you don’t communicate, you create an environment of anxiety, distress and where your employees dictate the story. And more often than not, that story won’t be the one that you want. Difficult conversations are likely to be had, but people appreciate honesty and transparency.
Ensure that messages come from the leaders in your business – and that those messages are consistent. If people hear it directly from leaders rather than through the grapevine, it shows control and helps build trust.
Covid-19 has brought uncertainty, worry, panic and an ever changing dynamic. Information needs to be shared timely, accurately and appropriately.
Questions on pay are going to increase significantly, especially with the rise in furloughed workers, potential redundancies or any other changes in employment. Equally, processes and HR procedures are ever changing. As a result, people will have more questions. If their questions aren’t answered in a timely manner, they may panic.
As you look to implement new guidance and processes, ensure you have a programme in place that proactively communicates the changes and what that means to your people.
Engage in new ways
Working from home was once seen as a nice to have, sometimes frowned upon. With UK government restrictions in play, unless you’re deemed a key worker, your office is now virtual. Whilst we’ve lost the physical connection of the workplace, that doesn’t mean we can’t connect. People will be using new tools and technology to stay productive. It’s important to consider how these can be leveraged to connect on a personal and emotional level.
As well as communicating with your employees, ensuring that they stay connected with each other can help them feel part of a community which is tied to your business.
Letting people know they are doing a great job and are appreciated means much more in uncertain times. There will be new stresses and challenges, so recognising this and demonstrating thanks is important. Public recognition from leadership and peers boosts morale and encourages the right behaviours. Create forums and campaigns to make this visible across the organisations and part of your culture going forward, even after the crisis has passed.
Purpose is key
Many businesses today are purpose-driven, meaning they exist for reasons beyond just making a profit. That can be very exciting, as most of the workforce is motivated to do more than just deliver financial return to shareholders. People naturally want to be part of something, and a strong purpose can rally people together and lead to better engagement.
Now more than ever, people want to help. They want to contribute to society and their communities. If you can show them that this is the purpose of the business, they will be able to see how they can make a difference.
If your vision is well crafted and well-articulated through effective communication, it will lead to your people feeling connected, engaged and motivated.
The new normal
Covid-19 has brought challenges the modern workforce has never seen before. There is no business as usual, but organisations will need to quickly establish what the new norm looks like. We still don’t know how long the uncertainty will continue for, or what it will look like when we come out the other side, but employees need consistency and clarity where possible.
When you are implementing new ways of communicating, while speed is an imperative, it needs to be sustainable. If your strategy is robust, well thought out and adaptable, you will have solutions in place which will work in the long term. This will lead to more stability for employees in a rapidly changing environment and result in better business outcomes.