Employee Communications Guidance: Week of 4/13

As we continue through a pandemic-driven cascade of cancellations, closings and social distancing, U.S. workplaces are experiencing ongoing disruption – and it’s measurable. Here is the latest from Gallup (survey results compare March 13-16 vs. March 27-29):

  • The number of full-time employees working from home because of COVID-19 closures has increased from 33% to 61%.
  • 52% of employees strongly agree that their employer has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus, an improvement of 15% from mid-March. However, employees feel less prepared to navigate their jobs. That number dipped 3% in the past two weeks (from 55% to 52%).
  • 40% of U.S. employees say their employer has frozen hiring, and 33% say their employer has reduced hours or shifts because of COVID-19 – up from 33% and 27%, respectively.
  • The percentage of full-time employees who say COVID-19 has disrupted their life “a great deal” or “a fair amount” jumped from 58% to 81%.
  • Compared with 2019, reports of daily worry have increased from 37% to 60% among the full-time working population. Daily stress has increased from 48% to 65%.

Keeping that data in mind, here are recommendations for the week ahead:

  • Conduct internal measurement to pulse-check sentiment within the organization and to guide upcoming company communications. Focus on awareness of the company’s short- and long-term business plans, understanding of new ways forward, confidence in company direction/leadership, value of employee contributions, effectiveness of channels and topics of interest. And allow people to submit questions. If possible to mirror existing Employee Engagement Survey questions so you can measure against a baseline, do. If not, a simple SurveyMonkey assessment or Workplace by Facebook Chat Survey can do the trick.
  • Target and translate communications according to employee type (e.g., corporate vs. frontline) to ensure team/local context and to answer the ever-important “what’s in it for me?” question. For businesses with non-English-speaking staff, account for language translation within the content development process to ensure all employees have access to the same information. This is particularly important for companies considered essential businesses that have employees on the frontlines of the pandemic (e.g., grocery and manufacturing workers). Hot tip: Infographics can deliver important messages at a glance and in a visual language that is universally understood.
  • Reward and recognize internal partners championing the way. With teams adapting to new job roles and stepping in to fill evolving business needs – and with continued pressure to prove value as employees – giving kudos and acknowledging employee contributions is hypercritical.

*If you have questions or are seeking counsel, please reach out to Carla Keppler at ckeppler@golin.com.