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COVID-19 COMMS: DON’T FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE

by | Mar 26, 2020

Thanks to global COVID-19 pandemic, this has likely been the busiest month in history for communications professionals. Wowza yowza, it’s been a crazy March. Remember, it was just two weeks ago when the NBA shut down the Utah game and its season, which seemed like the moment that many of us realized things had changed.

Just three weeks ago:

  • We showed up at the office (or plant or distribution center or retail location), grabbed a cup of coffee and started working
  • We would gather around desks or conference room tables to work through issues
  • We shook hands and sometimes awkwardly bro-hugged
  • We worked side by side on a plant floor
  • Only a small percentage of our workforce included remote workers
  • Customers could walk into retail environments
  • There were 6 million more job openings than qualified workers

Since then, every Tribe client – and every other company in the world – has gone into overdrive figuring out the human resources and operational implications of COVID-19 on their respective employee bases. It is absolutely critical that we help employees understand what leadership is doing to ensure that they’re all safe and that they will still have a role to play in the success of the company. This is uncharted territory for all of us. So it makes complete sense that communicators are hunkered down and focused entirely on getting these messages as right as they possibly can.

Stressful times like these reveal a lot about the culture of an organization. It’s like how a Meyers-Briggs test is supposed to tell us how we’ll react when things get crazy. Do employees trust leadership to make wise decisions? Do they believe the company has their best interest at  heart? Do ethics remain in place when tough decisions have to be made? Are people treated with kindness and empathy – even when the employees may not like the answers?

This is why effective employee communications is so critical to businesses. It takes years and significant effort to build the kind of trust and employee engagement that buoys companies through crisis situations and gets employees to answer those questions positively.

So as quickly as we’re able, we’re going to need to refocus the conversation back on the operations of the business. On how we plan to align employees to deliver on our respective brand promises within this new normal that we’ll be dealing with for the foreseeable future.

In time, our lives and businesses will begin to settle back into a reasonably predictable pattern, even if that pattern is different from anything we’ve known. Then EVPs, recruiting and retention and keeping our people motivated and productive will be back on the agenda.

The faster we’re able to promote a sense of normalcy back into our communications and into our workday, the faster our folks will be able to adjust to all of the adversity that they’re facing. Tribe can help with COVID-19 response communications. But we can also help keep your cultural projects on track.

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