Reimagining employee communication during a crisis

It’s important for organisations to be genuine and transparent more than ever before. When apprehensions arise, reassurance is key

Krishna Raghavan
Updated: Jun 19, 2020 05:52:21 PM UTC

Krishna Raghavan is the Chief People Officer at Flipkart

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Image: Shutterstock

As the world faces an unprecedented public health emergency, governments and organisations are working to find the right channels to keep people informed, engaged and aligned, on how to navigate and eventually emerge from this crisis.

As organisations look at working remotely, this period has presented the biggest opportunity to be closer and stay connected to employees. Now is the time to rethink, reimagine and nurture the employee experience and communication, which has been shaken by the current scenario. This period has shed light on new perspectives when it comes to employee communication and has encouraged us to upgrade our employee vision and processes, as we reimagine a new tomorrow.

Addressing apprehensions and building assurance
A crisis situation like the one we are currently facing can create many apprehensions among employees about their jobs, roles and salaries. There could be concerns for the company’s future and growth too, and every individual may deal with this scenario differently. Therefore, it becomes a high priority for an organisation’s leadership to keep its employees informed and engaged in a transparent manner. A steady and consistent stream of communication from the top executives to all employees, keeping them apprised of the latest developments and what it could mean for the future, can play a vital role in not only addressing these apprehensions, but building assurance too. The transparency helps mitigate concerns to a certain extent and plays an important role in building trust. It’s important for organisations to be genuine and transparent more than ever before. When apprehensions arise, reassurance is key.

Adopting a safety-first approach
Placing the utmost importance on employees’ well-being should be the key, agnostic of circumstances. In times such as these, it is a priority to remain focused on ensuring that employees maintain the best physical and mental health. When faced with a global health crisis such as this one, we are flooded with information and there are several instances of fake news circulating on a daily basis. An organisation can play an important role during such circumstances, in building awareness and helping its employees assess the facts. Sharing precautionary measures with employees and maintaining an open channel of communication with regard to Government directives in real-time can go a long way in dispelling myths and helping people stay on the right track. Making suitable arrangements on campus and reiterating measures taken to prioritise people’s wellbeing will help employees understand the importance of the directives.

Practising empathy and compassion
This time is not easy for any of us and there are several uncertainties that we are faced with. It’s important to understand that every employee’s experience is unique and is determined by multiple factors. Acknowledging that everyone is currently balancing priorities between work, home and family, will enable organisations to communicate effectively. Actively listening and responding to employees’ voices, can have a profound impact on the overall employee experience. The current scenario presents an opportunity for organisations to build trust and loyalty with their employees, by approaching situations with empathy and compassion. It is upon the leaders of the organisation to listen deeply, communicate transparently and respond with agility.

Delivering on your culture
As the adage on the subject goes, adversity does not build character, but reveals it. This is no different for an organisation. Volatility, ambiguity and stress can cast negativity upon people’s morale and it is important to constructively address it, while reiterating what the culture of your organisation stands for. Leaders must rally their people towards a common purpose, motivate them and live those values through examples. Because it is not just about what organisations are doing today, but how they are preparing their employees for tomorrow.

Every crisis in life paves the way for great learning. You grow with time and experience, which help combat future challenges with increased rigour. Living your organisation’s positive values are most relevant during such times and I believe that a strong people-focused culture will continue to power our evolution.

The writer is Chief People Officer at Flipkart

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