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What Can You Do to Help Your Employees Through this Crisis?

We’ve all been inundated by the media with COVID-19 information, but what can you do to help your employees get through this crisis?

The best thing you can do to prepare your team for whatever is about to come is to communicate, communicate and then communicate some more.  They want to know what COVID-19 means to them – especially how will it affect their ability to provide for their family.  Will they lose their job?  Will the company survive?  Does the company have a plan if COVID-19 infects many employees?  And, while you may not have all the answers, and maybe none of the answers, there are still things you can and should communicate about.

First, you should acknowledge that you don’t have the ultimate answer to “what is going to happen” with respect to the virus, its trajectory and what will happen to the economy long-term.  But you can, and should, reassure your employees with things you do know now.  For instance, you should share with your team, and update them regularly, with respect to the basics, such as:

  • Protecting yourself at work

  • Protecting the workplace/facility

  • Protecting yourself at home and in the community

  • Self-quarantining

  • Visitor restrictions

  • Travel-related restrictions

Sharing these types of communications lets your employees know that they matter- their health and well-being, and the well-being of their families – are important to you and the company.

We also recommend having pre-approved communications in place for highly anticipated developments – i.e., things that you believe are going to happen during the duration of this COVID-19.  Because these communications are pre-approved, they are ready to go the second the scenario becomes reality.  Some of these COVID scenarios include:

  • An employee is confirmed to have COVID-19.

  • An employee’s family member is diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • An employee’s close association is diagnosed with COVID-19 (i.e., spouse’s co-worker, player/teammate on child’s sports team, reading club member) is diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • The government, state or local authorities mandate temporary business closure.

  • A recent customer or vendor is diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • The company is forced to declare force majeure with respect to vendor contracts.

  • An employee dies as a result of complications from COVID-19.

  • An employee’s family member dies as a result of complications from COVID-19.

  • Lay-offs and other workforce reductions, such as furloughs.

  • Permanent facility closures.

  • Reorganization of workforce.

Each of these scenarios requires a suite of communications directed to your stakeholders, particularly your staff, board members, vendors, customers, and business partners.  You will also need a plan to handle traditional and social media.

While navigating this crisis may seem overwhelming, and it’s easy to put off until the last minute, don’t!  To be successful, you should start now.  Dedicate a team, or person, to strategizing and developing the communications plan.  That person/team should be dedicated to developing and disseminating accurate and timely information on a regular basis.

© 2020 Hennes Communications. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 103

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About this Author

Bruce Hennes Crisis Management Hennes Communications
Chief Executive Officer

Bruce M. Hennes is CEO of Hennes Communications, one of the few firms in North America focused exclusively on crisis management and crisis communications. Hennes Communications serves government agencies, corporations, manufacturers, education and healthcare institutions -- as well as law firms and their clients -- that are “on trial” in the Court of Public Opinion.

With over 40 years’ experience in communications, Bruce and the firm’s past and present clients include the Cleveland Host Committee for the 2016 Republican National Convention, the...

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