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Communicating with Employees During a Crisis

During times of crisis, there are a lot that changes. This also calls for changes in your behavior as a senior leader. Communicating with employees in the right manner during this time is extremely pertinent. A crisis can affect different people differently. And you need to look out for these behavioral changes. Most employees will be worried and scared about the situation and its effect on their job and their family. They will look for security and a sense of comfort in their jobs. They will also look for their seniors to take the lead and guide them.

“We are stronger when we listen, and smarter when we share.” Queen Rania of Jordan

How to Communicate with Employees During a Crisis?

Here is how you can be the leader of the company and your employees need you to be.

Over-communicate, don’t under-communicate

When times are challenging it is far better to communicate frequently with your team than avoid difficult conversations. These times of silence from you can result in employees coming to their own conclusions, mistrust, gossip, panic, and defiance. None of which is good for the team dynamics or the company. The more you communicate, the better. To avoid being repetitive, you could try communicating the same message through different channels and in different ways. Especially during tough times, it proves beneficial to the employees to be told the same thing multiple times. It increases their trust and faith in what is being said. And also gives them something positive to hold on to during a time of negativity and sadness.

Update the team

While communicating with employees often, it’s important to also not hide critical information from them. Especially during a time of crisis, people need true reassurance. Your employees will catch on to you not being authentic and this will cause further issues. Even if there’s nothing big to update, the HR can inform people of the small steps being taken and reassure them that things are being handled. Give them a date that you can give them more information. Let them know that until then you and the other members of senior management are gathering information.

Set up a task force for the job

At a large company you could put together a communication task force specifically for the crisis at hand. Assign team members to handle different verticals within the company and use them to reassure the rest of the employees of the situation of the company. The task force can also be the go-to people other employees approach with concerns. Setting up these safe and reliable channels for communication can help ease the employees of their concerns. Having an emergency task force is a good idea to have on hand before a crisis hits.

Help them work remotely

Communicating with employees doesn’t only mean giving them updates. Since this remote working situation has come as a surprise, there might be many who are ill-prepared to work from home. So as a leader, help them get set up with the equipment they need to set up their workstations, whether it is computer systems, laptops, headsets, software, or desks and chairs. This will not only show them that you are invested in their roles within the company, but also that you are there to help if they need it. This will increase their motivation, trust, and loyalty. There consequently, it will help maintain productivity through a challenging time.

Address plans for the future

A crisis like the current pandemic increases uncertainty. Which in turn increases worry. Speak with your employees and explain your plan for the future. You need to lead calmly in a difficult situation. Explain how you plan to work through the crisis and bring the company through to the other side. Make sure you speak with them about their positions and roles within the company. Employees need to hear that their job is secure. They need to hear that the company they are working for has the plan to recover from the crisis and that they have a part to play in it. This will increase their dedication to the company and its well-being.

Keeping your employees first during challenging times will have a positive effect on them and therefore the company.


Q. Why is it important to update the team regularly?

A. Especially during trying times, employees need reassurance. Without regular communication from the head of the team, employees might jump to their own conclusions, which might garner mistrust and breed gossip.

Q. What is the role of a task force?

A. A communication task force specifically communicates with the employees during times of crisis. They can reassure the rest of the employees of the situation of the company and calm their concerns.

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