Effective and regular internal communication during a crisis is critical, and the only way to go about it is from the heart. Here are five things to keep in mind while crafting organization-wide communications that are empathetic and help to build trust.
1. Maintain Transparency
Sharing a behind-the-scenes perspective of the different options your organization is considering is extremely important. Your employees want to know what’s going on, so it’s a good idea to be honest about where things stand. This can include certain cost-cutting measures to avoid retrenchments, certain non-confidential aspects of business continuity plans, and overarching technological methods to deal with COVID-19-associated limitations. Clear and inspiring communication is the key to strengthening trust between employers and employees.
2. Allow Vulnerability
Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability even as a leader. Sharing personal feelings of emotional turmoil, being open about one’s own concerns and not glossing over problem areas – These aspects reassure the team that you are all, indeed in the same boat and getting through these turbulent times together.
3. Practice Sensitivity
Sensitivity towards employees’ realities is a must. It’s essential to appreciate that at home, employees’ lives are uniquely different. For example, those with young children will face a reality that is massively different from those caring for ageing parents. Hence, giving people what they need when they need it is imperative. Similarly, messaging should be crafted in such a way that it caters to every employee. Communicate clearly, frequently and with simplicity.
4. Celebrate Positivity
In the face of uncertainty, it’s paramount to spread some positive news through internal communication initiatives. Employees will pay more attention to optimistically framed information, whereas constant negative information can reduce trust. Celebrate and reinforce the values your company stands for, and how they were demonstrated in the company’s pandemic response. This healthy dose of positivity will also help strengthen bonds to restore confidence and build resilience.
5. Instill Meaning and Purpose
Employee communications should also help people make sense of all that has happened and of what is to come. Establish a clear vision and a plan for the future with a renewed sense of purpose. Speak about how this purpose feeds into the organization’s strategic direction and how each individual’s work contributes to recovery. As part of this, you can also showcase stories about “living your purpose”, both personal and organizational, thereby also encouraging people to share their experiences.
The author, Budhaditya Dasgupta is a Regional HR Leader currently working out of Singapore. A pragmatic leader with extensive experience across industries in multiple geographies, he believes in the value that HR brings to the table in building great organizations.