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More Morale, Less Fear: Why Communication Matters During Crises

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies in Silicon Valley and beyond to rapidly shift to a remote work model to keep employees and communities safe. For many organizations, this was an unprecedented change that had company leaders across all industries scrambling.

Suddenly, leaders are facing brand-new obstacles: How do you best communicate to employees during a rapidly evolving crisis? How do you maintain a sense of connection when everyone is physically separated? How do you keep everyone focused on the company’s mission, goals, and values?

During times of crisis, leaders must figure out the answers to these questions and stamp out the harmful spread of misinformation and fear. They must remain strong, calm, and fearless so their employees can manage the uncertainty and anxiety these times bring. Leaders must prioritize connecting to their remote workforce to spread good news and provide emotional support. After all, if employees feel lonely or disengaged from the company as a whole, their work will likely suffer.

The Nuances of Communicating During a Crisis

In uncertain situations, the typical communication channels won’t cut it. Although smaller companies can probably get away with communicating important updates through private social media groups or messaging platforms, larger companies need a dedicated and scalable system for authoritative, top-down, and centralized communication. Otherwise, email, Slack messages, and other memos simply become lost in the noise — and your company becomes a gossip-fueled hive.

In other words, companies need a virtual headquarters: a place to store and update important news, focus employees on what matters, reinforce company values, and celebrate wins. Ideally, that system will also provide a way for employees to easily connect to the internal experts they need through a detailed people directory that lists skills and projects.

Remember: Just because your employees are physically separated doesn’t mean they don’t need to maintain and build their networks. Growth should be a constant in their professional careers.

Embracing a New Normal

Some speculate that the COVID-19 pandemic is quickly ushering in a new era of widespread remote work — one that necessitates an overhaul in many company functions.

Again, to ensure the long-term success of remote workers, companies must employ an internal communications platform for creating and sending targeted, urgent communications across the entire organization (and this matters even when there isn’t a public health crisis unfolding).

At Simpplr, the decision to go remote was easy, but the execution required some finesse. In addition to the health and safety of my workers, I was also concerned about our customer service: Would our users be impacted by our employees’ switch to remote-only work?

Crisis aside, I knew we still needed to maintain uninterrupted service for customers — this commitment is baked into our culture. And while we were all adjusting to this new normal, we also saw an increase in licenses from businesses wanting to connect their employees to our internal communications platform. Everyone suddenly needed an outlet for rapid and reliable communication, and we had to expand our business, offer exceptional service to new clients, and retain our current clients during this huge change.

To reduce uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis and ensure things would run smoothly, we used our own internal communications platform to share good news, reinforce company culture, and encourage positive morale.

Here are a few tactics we used that other companies could easily adopt:

  1. Celebrate wins and other positive outcomes. Share sales team successes, client wins, and go-lives with the company so teams can witness projects they’ve worked on come to life.
  2. Recognize standout employees and teams. Likewise, recognize accomplishments big and small, and make sure to highlight individual contributions, too. This singles out employees who have put in significant effort during these tough times.
  3. Create opportunities to socialize with casual virtual activities. Plan and promote virtual group activities such as video lunches or online games to encourage team bonding. This gives your team members the chance to get to know one another on a more personal level. In turn, everyone can feel more connected.
  4. Rethink your meeting frequency.If your organization has team video meetings, reconsider their cadence. Teams that used to meet weekly, for instance, should consider daily check-ins to ensure they stay connected. At Simpplr, we ramped up our all-hands meetings (which we call “Ask Us Anything” meetings) to a weekly, instead of a monthly, cadence. Because every employee adjusts to remote work differently, we wanted to overextend communication and transparency.

Ready or not, companies everywhere have recently embraced the work-from-home world — and they’re proud of it. Allowing your employees to work from home not only signals that you value their health, safety, and overall well-being, but also that you’re looking out for the wider community. However, communication can take a hit without strategic alignment.

Communicating with employees and keeping morale high is important all the time, but even more so during times of crisis. Are you ready to make that shift?

Written by Dhiraj Sharma. Have you read?
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Dhiraj Sharma
Dhiraj Sharma is a serial entrepreneur and technology enthusiast whose passion is promoting purpose in the workplace. Dhiraj is founder and CEO of Simpplr, an employee communications app marketed as today’s modern employee intranet. Dhiraj Sharma is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. He can be found on LinkedIn.