Crisis Communications & Employees – what we learned from Hans Dairy

Crisis Communications & Employees - what we learned from Hans Dairy

Crisis Communications & Employees - what we learned from Hans Dairy

“Living and working during a global pandemic is new to all of us – this situation with COVID-19 is unprecedented. However, what I can tell you about crisis communications with employees is that the fundamentals stay the same – you have to be clear in what you are saying and you have to listen. We may be communicating at a much higher frequency now but the basics don’t change. Always be open, always be transparent.”

  • Sarab Hans, CEO, Hans Dairy

Employee communications is more important than ever during a crisis, the COVID-19 global pandemic is unprecedented. Employees in facilities are working under stressful conditions and some team members may be working from home.

We all could use advice from experienced crisis communications specialists during this time.

Keep regular communication with all employees.

Even if it’s just an email, keeping in contact with your employees by sharing information on the crisis, recent changes and issues is crucial.

Communicate any changes in safety measures or policies your organization is developing.

This has always been important, but more so during a crisis when communication is harder.

Establish clear guidelines on expectations, especially while employees work remotely.

If your employees don’t know your expectations, they might not meet them. Working from home is no vacation, let them know they need to sign in and out at specific times. You can even use applications to keep your team in communication in one central location, like Microsoft Teams. See our blog on how to effectively work remotely here [link to remote working blog].

Remote work may mean some roles change or are altered.

Make sure you clearly communicate this to staff directly impacted by these changes. A company wide email on a brief explanation of these changes may also be beneficial.

Review your current leave policies and modify them accordingly.

With a global health crisis underway, your current leave policies will likely need to be altered to protect both your employees and your organization. If you’re unsure of how to structure this, our Sector Guidelines might help – a collection of resources for our industry on Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response updates, templates and general information regarding the pandemic.

Confirm that you can continue meeting payroll.

During a crisis, people often worry about making ends meet financially. Communicate to your employee’s that payroll is not at risk. If there are changes in procedures relating to payroll or employee benefits, be clear on these modifications in communications with your employees. Be available to answer their questions or concerns about this.

Have contingency plans in place to support any employee you may need to layoff.

Talk with your team members who are being let go and help them connect with the government provided financial programs, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), to help them navigate their next steps (applications for these programs open in April). Link to CERB  information here.


Leadership and Additional Communication Resources

Being a leader is hard, but being a leader during a crisis is a whole other level of hard. Whether you need help navigating how to reassure your employees on their worries, or how to effectively collaborate during a crisis, the links below will help you. These assorted resources about communicating, team collaboration and leadership best practices for leading during a crisis are incredibly beneficial to all levels of leaders. Have a read and lead on!

  1. McLean and Company: Collaborating Effectively During COVID-19
  2. Harvard Business Review: 8 Questions Employers Should Ask About COVID-19
  3. Harvard Business Review: Lead Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis
  4. Harvard Business Review: How to Reassure Your Team When the News is Scary
  5. Center for Creative Leadership: Crisis Leadership