No matter the size of your organization, if you haven't officially communicated to your employees about #coronavirus, start today. Keep it simple and follow these six steps:
Communicate electronically. In addition to talking to your employees, utilize your electronic tools to share information about the outbreak (email, intranet, texting, voicemails, etc.). Why? Because it's important to demonstrate you can utilize the tools you have, and it's important your team members start to refer to these outlets for the latest information. While we certainly aren't there yet, there may be a time when face to face communication isn't an option. It's also a great opportunity for you to test those systems.
Reassure. You need to reassure your employees that their safety is a priority. Say it, and take steps to show it. Make sure your hand sanitizer stations are full, your IT and phone systems can handle added remote traffic, and ensure your work from home policies are updated. Listen to and respond to employee questions and concerns, and make sure you have a mechanism for their feedback. Add a Frequently Asked Questions section to your intranet and include those questions in your updates.
Be Transparent. Tell employees what you are doing to ensure business continuity and their safety. From monitoring the situation to activating a response team to cleaning the office more frequently - whatever steps you are taking, however minor they may seem, share them with employees.
Share Facts. Don't share media stories or rumors with your teams. Instead, refer them to official government resources, such as OSHA, CDC and WHO.
Give Direction. Tell employees what they can do to help. Have them test their remote connections, take their laptops home each night, practice call forwarding, etc. Help them understand their role in protecting themselves and their co-workers. Feelings of helplessness will drive panic in any organization.
Repeat. Communicate regularly with your teams about your ongoing efforts. Initiate daily - or at least weekly - updates.
These are unsettling times. While hand washing is the best defense against spread of the virus right now, effective communication is the best defense against spread of fear in the workplace.