What employees want? Communications during Covid-19

You never overcommunicate, opine some.

Communicate right, says another school of thought. 

The unprecedented pandemic and lockdown situation of Covid-19 has opened the Pandora’s box again. Here we are amid a crisis, something never seen before. Though all the organisations have the best of Business Continuity Plans (BCP), everyone admits, nothing had prepared them for such a scenario, and it is taking lot of agility to combat the situation. There is certain confusion and chaos with multiple stakeholders trying to douse the fire and working 24X7 to address two main points: 1. Its People are safe & 2. Minimise impact to operations

Covid-19 combat is not easy because: 

  • Evolving situation (changing every hour)
  • Global (all are affected and yet, different updates of different countries)
  • Unforeseen (Not handled such situation before)
  • Unprepared (Lack preparedness of this magnitude and intensity) 
  • Resources (Unavailability of needed tools, technology and equipment)

With so many variables, it’s inevitable there is something or the other to be told to our biggest stakeholders — Employees. And from here starts the war to inundate them with communication through all media. Communication is important, mind you. But with overexposure comes the risk of communication fatigue. Because they are overexposed to so much information from so many channels. It stops making a difference and we run the risk of putting across important point too many times for them to take a note. It becomes difficult for employees, as recipients, to notice, absorb and assimilate important information they need.

So, what can we do to ensure that employees get all information that must be sent across without their being immune to the messaging? Based on the experience by far, here is 4 E’s Employee Communication Model to Communicate Right during Covid-19. 

Whenever there is a need to communicate with employees, test if it falls under the following 4 buckets. These are the only areas, which matter to employees right now:

  • Educate (What’s happening?)
  • Enable (How can I work?)
  • Encourage (How can I give my best?)
  • Engage (How I stay connected, virtually)

While you do that ensure:

  • To avoid any jargon they can’t comprehend. Instead, explain new terminologies, what do they mean and what they need to do (e.g. Social Distancing).
  • To cut down on fluff. Don’t sugarcoat or build on too much context or beat around the bush. Give the right context and come straight to the point.
  • To say things clear and direct. This is not the time to leave things to people’s interpretation, when they feel so vulnerable. Minimise the loss of messaging between coding decoding.

 Use various media as appropriate to communicate and club, wherever necessary. There are things, which need to be told as standalone piece of information while others can be clubbed and saved in a repository. 

In these testing times, employee communication is playing a very crucial role in making people’s work effective and efficient.  Let’s make it count by doing the right thing, the right way, in the right frequency.

 


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

Nitika Bose
Head of Internal communications – Sutherland (India geo)
Bangalore
A Communication enthusiast with 18 years of industry experience. Passionate about harnessing right media channels to communicate right bytes to the right audience. Devise communication strategy of the organization and hands on with writing and postings.

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