The current economic climate can instil a sense of uncertainty and fear amongst your company’s employees. Everyday, newspapers bring reports of mergers, acquisitions and job cuts. As they say, ‘Time And Tide Waits For No Man’ and today’s world is a perfect example of that.
But this constantly changing environment can affect the morale and productivity of employees. What should you do to make sure that employees stay assured and feel secure when there are monumental changes happening within the company and the industry?
It may seem like a remote possibility right now, but the first rule of communicating in times of crisis is to be prepared. Just like everyone prepares for personal emergencies by investing in insurance, anticipating a crisis and being prepared for it is like insurance guarantee that ensures your company’s internal and external health at times, when it is the most vulnerable.
Creating an internal communications strategy while there are significant changes happening in the company can work wonders. Providing your employees the right message at the right time can make a real difference. It will work towards preserving calmness, protecting the company culture, and sending out the right message through company’s most reliable advocates.
While most of the time it feels like a crisis situation lands out of nowhere, it is possible to create some contingency plans and processes to follow in case of an event that could lead to chaos. It may not be possible to chalk out a specific internal communications strategy but it is possible to create some protocol. These protocols should include the following –
- A team to manage crisis communication and actions
- Internal and external spokesperson with proper leadership training
- Standard holding statements
- Communication templates
- Escalation matrix that specifies scenarios, spokespersons and messages
If your company is headed towards a change that might impact day-to-day lives of your employees, use such company culture ideas to be prepared.
Before your employees start getting information through different forms of media, communicate the right message in the correct tonality. Use this piece of communication to also remind and reinforce your media communications and social media policy. The first step will avoid panic, while the second step will remind your employees of their responsibilities as stakeholders in the company.
For assurance, keep things simple, honest and transparent. Share as much as you can while sounding genuine.
Does this have to be over email? Maybe or maybe not. Ensure that your message is communicated by a relevant and trustworthy spokesperson. It could be through a town hall or a message or a video, whichever medium seems apt keeping in mind the occasion, number of employees, and other variables. A personal touch in such situations goes a long way.
Many people (including your future employees) will turn to your company’s current employees to get information about the crisis. Make sure that your crisis communication team specifies what can and cannot be shared with the general public while they communicate with the employees. Ensure that your crisis communication team has been through team building activities for work. Be real-time and proactive while sharing messages to inculcate inclusiveness in your company during trying times.
Keep At It
Keep sharing consistent updates with your employees. Especially before these updates hit the media. Open channels of communication to encourage dialogue between the employees and senior management. This can include inviting emails, one on one discussions, sharing FAQs etc. It doesn’t have to stop there. In times of change, a simple gesture to assure the employees can make a huge difference too.
An occasion of crisis can also be an opportunity to build trust and infuse your company’s values amongst your employees, reinforcing a healthy company culture. This could be done by ensuring that the senior management is seen living the company’s values or using them to communicate with the world.
If a moment of crisis can test your company, a moment of crisis can also become an opportunity to prove your company’s positives. Proactive planning, smart steps, corporate team work and a bit of creativity can help you weather a storm efficiently with almost no damage.