Covid, Compassion and Communications

What we all have witnessed about the second wave of Covid19 resurgence has been nothing less than a catastrophe devastating the lives and work of millions in India. On one hand, it stripped away the lifetime savings of many among our working population, on another hand, it bereaved many of their earning family members bringing the lives of the family at the mercy of others.

While people were suffering many angels were rising among the corporates, usually infamous for their greed of bettering the balance sheets. We did see many companies announcing special policies for Covid relief, few have announced to provide job opportunities to the kin of the deceased, a few have committed the salaries for the people who passed away to be given to their families till the time of their retirement age, had they been alive.

Especially, in the PR circle, a group of good samaritans came together to form a group and started helping the members of the public relations & corporate communications community, who were affected by the job loss, and ill-effects of Covid. While common men were helping each other by connecting people with things like oxygen cylinders, concentrators, finding hospital beds, there were many people from the PR fraternity joining this effort. One of the large corporates, well admired for trust & philanthropy, had already spent over 2500 Crores in covid relief in India.

Interestingly, in the environment of gloom and uncertainties, what becomes most important is to also communicate and reach out to all stakeholders compassionately and emphatically. If the organisations treat the human resources as long-term assets, they end up building loyalty, and enhancing the performance of each contributing to the growth of the organisation. Such crises could be the best opportunities to bolster measures that help build great organisations.

It’s not only about offering some financial aid, but also a slew of other things that help create cohesive teams for the organisation. Being emphatic and not deducting leaves for those affected by the pandemic, sharing their workload by their co-workers, reaching out to the affected people, getting regular updates about their health, extending support in a timely fashion, providing any consultations and/or counseling to the affected team members and their families etc.

Organisations can have their corporate communications policies reworked to suit this allowing an effective flow of information within the hierarchical chain to align every individual at horizontal and vertical levels. Timely response to the individual crisis is always the key, and internal communications systems should be efficient enough to deliver this to every employee. From reaching out emergency care to an individual to ensuring the mental health and emotional well-being of a large pool of workforce, is a renewed priority for the communications professionals within an organisation.

One of the most important things that come into play is listening to the issues of the workforce more patiently and with more empathy than ever before. In the pandemic mindset, almost every employee would be undergoing tremendous stress of some of the other kind and a proper hearing would surely help assuage his fears of various kinds.

Sheer reassuring words and statements like “don’t worry” and “don’t panic, we are with you” coming from your employers can be highly motivating for the large workforce, that they have to manage. It can be an SMS, what’s app, email, or a newsletter for that matter coming from the organisation communicating empathy, support, and compassion to their employees works wonders in building goodwill within the organisation.

Similar communication full of positivity, concern, care, and commitment across stakeholders outside the organisation including customers, business associates, trade partners, and other entities will help to strengthen their image adding to the goodwill.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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