In the wake of COVID-19, we, as a global community, have more questions today than answers. The truth of the matter is that we are navigating uncharted territory with limited information and no historical reference point to learn from (at least not in a globalized world). However, we must work with what we do know, leverage the tools we have at our disposal, and tackle hurdles one at a time. Organizations the world over are working diligently to safeguard their companies, employees, and communities; health, safety, and day-to-day crisis management are primary as they should be. However, in challenging times your culture and employer brand are vulnerable too, and that’s where we come in!
While no one likes adversity, it often reveals character, and this is as true for organizations as it is for individuals. A great number of organizations, the lucky ones able to do so at least, have mandated, suggested, or permitted remote work arrangements, but the transition to remote work for most people is exactly that – a transition. How do you ensure people feel supported, connected, engaged, and committed to your company’s mission? We’ve compiled a few tips, tricks, and best practices that we think could help you forge ahead:
1. Focus On Your People
In a crisis, businesses tend to focus their attention on customers and external audiences. How will we control public perception? How will we keep our customers? How will we weather this storm and ensure the survival of our business? All valid questions, as long as you have a plan to support your people as well. While organizations are unique and solutions are most definitely not one-size-fits-all, we’ve rounded up a few ways some employers around the world have demonstrated their commitment to their people in light of COVID-19 challenges:
- Twitter is implementing #FlockTalk, a virtual employee support program to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting people.
- Walmart is allowing employees in the US to stay home without penalty if they fear the spread of the coronavirus.
- Starbucks decided to offer up to 14 days’ Catastrophe Pay to baristas exposed to the coronavirus.
- Shopify implemented a remote-work policy for their employees around the world and offered employees a $1,000 stipend to furnish their work-from-home setups.
Whether you have the means to invest in employer brand management today on a large scale or are looking to make a modest-but-meaningful impact is not critically important. What’s the key message here? Treat your employees with compassion and make them a priority; after all, you need them to drive your organization forward today and tomorrow.
2. Communicate – Proactively, Consistently, and Considerately
In the absence of credible and timely information, rumors tend to take on lives of their own. Not only does this cause confusion and erode your culture, but it can also fuel fear and undermine your crisis control efforts. Communicate openly and often with your people about the news that impacts them. Your transparency and proactivity will be greatly appreciated.
First, define the key messages you want to share and respond to your most frequently asked questions. How will COVID-19 affect our business? How will our jobs be impacted? What is being done to keep us safe at work? What is the company’s future outlook? All communications, from in-person meetings to group-wide emails or public relations and social media campaigns, should be aligned with these key messages and as transparent as possible.
Then, develop a clear communication plan to share information with prospective talent, as well as current employees, especially if recruitment efforts will be impacted. Take a thoughtful approach – decide who needs to be informed of what and when. Prevent hearsay, communicate proactively, control the message. Make sure internal teams and leaders supporting this transition are aligned and armed with the key messages and answers to FAQ’s you’ve already defined. Provide direction to those disseminating messaging too. Tone matters! You want the information to be shared in a way that inspires confidence and matches the mood you want to promote.
Lastly, ensure communication flows both ways and focus on the tasks at hand. Clear, open lines of communication across the organization will help to mitigate high stress and prevent the fake news that spreads when people do not have all the facts. Employees, prospective candidates, vendors, and external partners will notice if your actions match your messaging. And they’ll notice if your actions don’t match your messaging.
3. Ensure Your Actions are Aligned With Your Vision, Values, and EVP
Every interaction can shape how employees view your company, culture, and brand. Consider these “moments that matter” as opportunities to reiterate who you are as an organization, strengthen your culture, drive loyalty, and align with what your employees value most (your EVP).
Wherever possible, find a meaningful link between the actions you’re taking to handle the crisis and the eventual positive impact that those actions will have on your people and your organization. Yes, you might be making some difficult decisions, some of which may cause discomfort (even hardship) in the short term, but addressing the why will go a long way in winning the trust and respect of your people. How are your actions today safeguarding your organization, people, and culture in the long term? Answer that question and your people will appreciate being taken along for the journey.
4. Plan for tomorrow, today
Maintaining your employer brand and culture takes work, especially in times of crisis. Listen, communicate transparently, share your vision for the future, and reassure your employees that your goals and their goals are aligned. If you’re able to do this, you’ll build an employer brand that is resilient and a culture that can withstand tough times. The good news is that you don’t need to do this alone. As your employer branding, people practices, and culture experts, we are here to help you navigate the challenges you may be facing. Below are a few ways we can do so:
Remote Working Transitions
- The transition to remote work is exactly that – a transition. Ask us how we can help you ensure this transition is as seamless as possible for your people and your company.
Internal and Social Communications
- Your leadership in this time of uncertainty is needed and valued and will be remembered — by your employees and your customers. Ask us what to say and how to say it in a way that builds trust, engagement, and loyalty.
- Feeling connected and engaged when you’re new to remote working can be difficult. This is further amplified by the social distancing measures we are all being asked to take. However, there are steps you can take today to ensure your people feel supported, connected, and committed to your company’s purpose. Ask us about remote worker engagement strategies.
Your actions in times of crisis can make or break your employer brand and culture. If you would like to learn more about employer branding and how we can help you navigate crises and build a resilient corporate culture, call Blu Ivy today at 647-308-2352.