Expert Insights

Employee Communications and Engagement during COVID-19

March 23, 2020

As things continue to move quickly on the coronavirus communications front, Golin’s COVID-19 Working Group is anticipating some evolving needs from our companies in the coming days, especially when it comes to communicating with employees.

Here’s what we can expect as immediate and quick-coming client needs:

  • Sharing news of employee and/or employee household illnesses. As availability of testing increased last week, we saw an uptick in positive testing across the country. If they haven’t already, organizations should prepare a series of template emails to share should those incidents occur.
  • Preparing executive succession plans. The C-Suite is not immune, and it’s critical that companies have plans in place to ensure business continuity should any of their executives need to step away to tend to their health or the health of a loved one. In addition to putting clear plans in place, think about ways to message those details to employees.
  • Communicating business impacts. With businesses temporarily closing doors, markets still fluctuating and no real clarity on when the tides will turn, more organizations are furloughing and laying off employees. While it’s never fun sharing bad news, there is a way to do it gracefully to ensure the long-term wellbeing of your people.
  • Getting it right with employees. As the initial shock of these new business realities and ways of working wear off a bit, brands are starting to ask what they can and should do to “get out there” again. The key, as outlined in this post yesterday, is to ensure organizations are taking good care of their employees (especially those on the frontline) before starting conversations about anything else.
  • Preparing for more serious news. As things continue to escalate, we’re facing the unfortunate reality that it’ll likely get worse before it gets better. There’s a possibility some of our partners will lose employees to the virus. Teams should be prepared to approach that difficult incident should it arise.
  • Starting to think about the future. As we think about planning for a return to business as usual and getting employees back to work, we may face conflicting direction from the White House and the medical/science community. State- and local-level officials may go in different directions, and we should be ready to adapt to that guidance.

*If you have questions or are seeking counsel, please reach out to Carla Keppler at