Covid-19 has left businesses around the world reeling. Many are now in ‘crisis mode’ and are attempting to plot the best course to help them through the current situation.
With so much unpredictability, uncertainty and unknowns for both businesses and their workforce, effective and consistent communication has swiftly become an all-important lifeline to hold organizations together.
Communication is especially important for businesses who rely on the deskless workforce. Shift and frontline workers are being hit particularly hard and currently face unmatched emotional and financial uncertainty, making it vital for businesses to get their communication geared towards them right.
But internal communication is not the only thing that matters. External communication has to strike the right tone for customers, partners, suppliers and even funders. Done wrong, it can quickly cause even more damage to companies who are already struggling.
To ensure your business is communicating in the best way during this crisis, Dan Brinkwerth, Partner & COO at Flint Global, recently joined us for a webinar (which you can view here). Here are his key tips to help you communicate more effectively with your workforce through the current crisis:
1. Embed strong internal communication into your culture
Having strong, robust, open, honest, and transparent internal communication right now is one of the best things your business can be doing. With large swathes of the workforce facing a gravely uncertain future, the last thing they want from their employer is a communication vacuum.
As Dan says: “Culture and organization eats strategy for lunch, all the time. You can lay out the perfect plan, and then then crisis hits and stress levels go up both for the individuals but also for the organizations.
“And then, certain dominant behaviors will appear, and nobody will really care anymore what somebody wrote down on that piece of paper last year. And that is the moment when communication plans go up in smoke.
“So, the best way to prepare for extreme situations and to prepare for crisis, is to communicate regularly with your workforce across a range of formats and channels to build a culture of internal communications.”
2. Get your messaging right
Both internally and externally, it’s crucial your messaging strikes the right tone. It needs to be accurate, authoritative, and, most importantly, build trust.
Dan says: “There's an important point about resisting the natural professional reflex communication managers often have which is to smoothen out difficult messages.
“In a crisis situation, this will only create cognitive dissonance with your workers who then question what you’re talking about. Ultimately, this will undermine trust and that is the worst thing that can happen in the crisis for you. You need to name the facts as they are, you need to say what you know and then help your workforce deal with the current situation.”
3. Cascade communication to your frontline managers
Your employees will have closer relationships to their frontline managers than they will to your CEO. That’s why your communication should be cascaded down to your frontline managers.
As Dan says: “It's the frontline managers who have the best and closest personal relations to your employees. It’s very important they get the opportunity to be in touch with them and are empowered to help you lead your organization.”
4. Use the right tools and channels
Right now it’s important not only to communicate the right messages, but to assure that your audiences are reached by your messages. Look into what channels that they use, because for example not all your employees will be on email. It’s therefore vital that you use a mixture of tools and channels to communicate with your whole workforce.
Part-time staff rarely have a company address, which is one of the reasons we’ve made the Quinyx Communication module free for businesses.
5. Keep employee engagement a priority
Employee engagement may not seem like a top priority right now. An engaged workforce however is one that cares for the business, cares for the jobs, and cares about what’s happening at work. If you want your employees to stay engaged during a crisis then you have to engage them. This means you’ll have employees who are actively willing and happy to contribute to help you weather the storm.
6. Provide perspective for what comes next
The question of, “What happens next?” is still a huge unknown and it’s likely to be changing on a weekly, if not, daily basis. You can help your workforce understand this by giving them a perspective on what comes next.
Dan’s take on it is this: “It's very important to give people perspective, and quite early on senior management should communicate widely how they envision the transition from the current crisis mode back into normal business.
“This has a number of advantages for everybody. Because, if you lay out the different phases of the recovery and say what the company is focusing on at that moment, you're also empowering your workforce to pull in the same direction to help.
“It's very important your employees know the leadership has a plan and strategy. And also that they understand the light they see at the end of the tunnel is actually a sound future for the company that you’re all fighting for together.”
You can view the webinar Leading through communication in times of crisis for more insight for Dan Brinkwerth here.
At Quinyx, we’re here to help during this challenge. In times of crisis, quick communication is vital. That's why we're opening up our communications app to your deskless workforce at no cost and our experts can set you up within a day.