1 Jul 2020, 19:02

Using effective communication in uncertain times

Anxiety levels for many employees have increased during the pandemic. Companies can help by reassuring their employees with effective employee communication. Luckily, there are some easy communication methods to connect with your employees. Find out how the right communication method can help you deliver the right message.

What communication strategies can you use

The best communication strategy depends on the nature of the message you intend to convey, and the likely impact it may have on your staff. You need to decide if an email, newsletter, phone call, or video call is appropriate. It all depends on the message you want to deliver.

Digital channels

You could consider using digital channels to communicate with your employees. Most are free and can easily bring remote and office workers together. Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are the primary tools for virtual meetings. But be careful that you don’t go overboard and use too many different channels. It might overwhelm employees and weaken your message.

Show leadership

Choose somebody to be a spokesperson for your communications. Everybody wants direction and a leader during a time of crisis. Ask the CEO or other high-level manager to deliver the message. It is an excellent opportunity for the business to build trust with their employees. You can explain the company’s goals and plans, showing a positive future.

Stay flexible

Whatever communication system you set up, try to stay as flexible as you can. In uncertain times things can change from one day to the next. The weekly video update from the CEO might not be enough. A quick email is better if something is urgent. If you sense a more one-on-one approach will work better, arrange individual meetings.

How can you monitor the effectiveness of employee communication?

 If you check how effective your communications are, you can adjust them if necessary.

Encourage all feedback

Asking for feedback is a key ingredient for effective employee communication. You might think that you have ticked all the boxes. At the end of a video call or phone call ask for any questions. Listen to all questions and address any concerns.

Use an employee survey

An employee survey can be a quick solution to find out if the message is clear. You can send one via email and keep it short to avoid information overload. Remember to include a section for employees to leave comments. This section could be a goldmine of information. You might even discover new opportunities for the business.

Monitor employee well-being

It is essential that employees feel listened to and valued. Remind them about any support or counselling that you can offer them. Let them know that they seek help at any time and how they can do this. These meetings will highlight any repeated concerns of employees.

How can you improve employee communication?

Whatever you decide to do, there will always be room for improvement. Consider these different areas to help improve your employee communication.

Positive messages

Try to keep the messages upbeat. Studies show that people remember negatives more than positives. Always say what you think is important. Remember to review any communication before it goes live. Finetune the script so that is positive and lightens the mood. Use engaging language with analogies to explain key points. Also, try to keep the message short.

Repeat the message

Repeating the message often can help it stick. A good example is “Stay Home, Save Lives, Protect the NHS”. The public acted due to the repetition of the message. The frequency of your communication is fundamental. Even if you don’t have much to say, the employees will be expecting something. If you say are going to do a weekly video broadcast, stick to this. The message will lose its impact if there is no set timetable. Also, make sure the message is the same across all mediums, including company meetings, email, phone calls or video.

Show empathy

These are trying times for us all and employees worry. Try to show empathy for their situation. It doesn't matter who communicates the message, but it must be emphatic. It will help to reduce anxiety and stress. Avoid generic communication and personalise any forms of communication. You could introduce fun elements, such as virtual coffee, fundraising, or a quiz.

Look to the future

As employees come back to the office, they will appreciate the extra communication. Try different forms of communication and find out what works best for your company. A phone call will always be more effective than sending an email or text. Likewise, video conferencing can work better than a phone call.

Every company has its own style. But the ideas above will give you a head start. Try some reverse psychology and look upon it as an opportunity as opposed to a challenge. You might find out that the new ways of communicating are better than ever.