The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, and things are changing so rapidly it’s difficult to keep up. For company and HR leaders, our focus is going to be on employee communication, whether we have essential workers or a portion of our workforce on furlough. Your company is looking to you to provide guidance and information, and how you handle communication during a crisis impacts your employer brand so heavily that a misstep can cause lasting damage.
In addition to needing to communicate with employees who are suddenly working remotely, or safety information for your essential workers, it is also necessary to maintain constant communication with furloughed employees. Large companies across the U.S., like Honda, Disney and Best Buy have furloughed tens of thousands of employees, as have companies across the restaurant, entertainment, retail, education industries, along with state and local and government agencies.
If you’re not communicating, you’re losing the trust of your employees and contributing to panic during a crisis. We need to be communicating with employees during this uncertain time whether you’re going through layoffs, furloughs, or you are continuing business as usual.
Essential Employee Communication During a Crisis Especially When Furloughed
While we have to keep an eye on the bottom line, communicating with employees should be the first thing on your list all day, every day. We talked a bit about communication in our comprehensive Furlough Guide. Here, we’ll go into more detail about best practices for communicating with your employees during a crisis, especially those employees who have been furloughed or may be laid off.
Update employee contact information. Things have been happening so rapidly, it’s likely that you haven’t had time to update employees’ personal contact information in your HRIS. If you are in furlough, or preparing to do so, now is the time to reach out to them. If you have to furlough employees, they will not have access to their work emails because you deactivated them (the same goes for layoffs). Ask your managers to gather the information from their teams and update those contacts in your database so you can include their email addresses on employee communication.
If you feel like you’re over-communicating, you’re doing it right. This crisis didn’t come with a playbook, so your employees are going to be looking to you for guidance. If you’re sending updates to your employee network and extended (furloughed) employees on projections for work changes, when you expect to return to normal work functions, what your state and local authorities recommend, and any executive level decisions multiple times a day, you cannot “over communicate” right now. Your current active workforce needs to know what you’re doing to keep them safe and your remote or furloughed employees need to feel included and informed…