A Path to Better Employee Communication

Learn why anticipating needs, planning ahead and expressing empathy is the key to success, especially during a global pandemic.

Remember when COVID-19 was supposed to end by Easter 2020? After a year and a half of Zoom calls, social distancing and office reopenings and reclosings, one business aspect has remained consistent: employees value and deserve transparency.  

 

Determining how to effectively communicate with internal audiences is an evolving conversation. Employees value openness and, in the wake of new pandemic variants, business owners should examine whether their communication methods are working or falling flat. 

 

Anticipate Needs

By anticipating employees’ needs, company executives will be better prepared when questions arise. A major topic currently on business leaders’ minds is whether to require vaccinations for employees. President Joe Biden recently stirred public conversation by requiring many enterprises to have their employees vaccinated or produce a negative COVID test at least once a week.  

 

For smaller businesses, communicating a detailed vaccination, mask-wearing and social distancing policy is essential. Additionally, if executives are unaware of employees’ vaccine status, surveying them and asking for feedback is always a good idea. Ask about preferences, pain points, desires, etc. to determine how best to move forward. 

 

The pandemic has blurred the line between employees’ professional and personal lives, including C-suite executives. Expressing empathy  and sharing how their families are impacted will help business leaders build trust and camaraderie among teams. Let’s face it: we all need extra emotional support right now. Communicating with compassion shows companies care.  

 

Plan Ahead 

With the COVID-19 Delta variant causing infection rates to soar nationwide, the future of the workplace is once again being called into question. While flexibility is important, employers who provide long-term messaging – rather than shifting week-by-week – can ease employees’ minds. Provide a plan for the next few months, if possible, keeping in mind the holidays are looming on the horizon. 

 

Large businesses look to be ramping up production for the holiday season by adding tens of thousands of employees. This is a far cry from last year, when Walmart, Target and Best Buy, among other brands, announced their stores would remain closed on Thanksgiving Day due to infection rates.  

 

Corporate leaders might take notes from big retailers: communicating ahead of time helps employees better understand company needs. Business owners aren’t expected to have all the answers, but even communicating proactively if paid time off, company handbooks and family leave policies are being reevaluated will help ease uncertainty. 

 

Vary Communication Methods 

Is it possible to overcommunicate with employees? It depends. Examine how often and in what ways information is being shared, keeping in mind many people are on information overload and are frankly tired of hearing about COVID-19. Additionally, overcommunication with employees generally leads to lower levels of team engagement.  

 

Nothing beats good old-fashioned one-on-one communication, but when that’s not possible, getting creative with communication methods is key to survival. A barrage of lengthy Slack messages, for example, will likely turn off employees. Mix up communication by providing updates through email, the company intranet and newsletters, or even hosting a biweekly or monthly virtual town hall. 

 

Effective communication isn’t just about employee satisfaction; people talk, and a lack of leadership is likely to negatively affect companies’ external brand reputations. Each employer must do what’s best for their team, but at the end of the day, those who communicate frequently, humanely and strategically will rise above the rest.

 

 

If you need an objective eye to help craft and communicate internal messaging, contact Candor. 

 

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