IMA Financial Group recently held a “return to work” symposium examining a number of issues that businesses need to address as they consider having employees return to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics ranged from medical considerations to employee benefits issues to cyber risks to communicating effectively with employees and customers.
GroundFloor Media participated in the symposium, and I shared some best practices for creating a pandemic communications strategy, including:
- Understand who matters to you – The first step in creating your plan should be to identify which audiences matter most to your business. Employees and customers should be at the top of the list, of course, but also think about secondary audiences that can impact you – board members, regulators, shareholders, etc.
- Define how you will communicate – It has never been easier to reach the audiences who matter to you, but you need to understand which communications channels will be most effective. It likely will be different for audience, so plan on a custom approach.
- Determine what you need to communicate – This information will also vary by audience, but you should try hard to only communicate the most important information while giving recipients a location where they can access additional information if they want it. Lengthy communications can dilute the critical information and cause recipients to ignore it.
As companies think about a return to the office, they should also be respectful of those employees who must be in the office. At GroundFloor Media and CenterTable, for instance, we have asked employees who do not need to be in the office to remain working from home so that those employees who do need to be in the office can work comfortably without fear of overcrowding.
Employees will have many concerns about their safety and the related safety of their family members when returning to the office, so make sure any plan addresses what steps you are taking to ensure their safety. You should also set clear expectations for employees on issues such as temperature checks handwashing recommendations, mask usage in the office, and remaining home if the employee has any health issues.
If you have any questions about creating a pandemic-related communications plan, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Story is a Vice President at GroundFloor Media, where he co-leads the firm’s Crisis Communication & Reputation Management practice. He has more than 20 years experience helping companies ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 100 prepare for, manage, and recover from crisis issues.