How to keep staff looped in but not overwhelmed during COVID-19

A new survey of 100 leading Comms Directors across Australia and Asia found that most workers were now using their employer as their most trusted source of coronavirus information - well above the media.

But some internal comms was actually fuelling employee anxiety, too. Furthermore, some communicators themselves were experiencing extreme guilt at having a job while colleagues were being stood down. It's clear there's never been a more critical time in the history of internal/employee communication to get it right and to look after one another.

Here are key insights we took from yesterday's insightful Zoom meeting with the Asia Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD).

Be honest about the future

The APACD survey found information about organisational earnings/budget disruption was what employees wanted to know most (42%) - above workplace disruption (17%) and staff mental/physical health (15%). Essentially, staff want to know if they'll have a job in 12 months.

Turn off the email tap

A constant stream of coronavirus email updates is fuelling some staff anxiety. Staff emails should focus on milestones and key messages relevant to the moment (e.g Australia's JobKeeper package). Intranet/other channels are better for other ongoing updates and to ease employee inbox stress.

Find something unrelated to celebrate together (virtually)

Is there an organisational milestone coming up separate to COVID-19? Could this be celebrated together by staff working from home via FB Workplace or Zoom? A little injection of Business As Usual using the right tone and right channel can help provide respite.

WhatsApp works: No 1 employee comms channel

Where possible, getting a little more informal over team WhatsApp groups is helping reduce anxiety and retain motivation. In fact, APACD found that WhatsApp is currently the most effective employee comms channel.

Show your values in action

It's times like these that organisational values should be leveraged to highlight a path forward - in a way that connects with your employees. Do a vox pop among staff. How are your values helping them through this time? If they aren't - it may soon be time for a values rethink.

Timeliness is key

When asked about the key factor contributing to effective coronavirus communications, APACD comms directors ranked timeliness as no.1 and being prepared for the unexpected as no.2. Using the right channel with the right messages was vital.