In times of uncertainty, fear is a common emotion. The national and world health crisis of this spring has left everyone with several questions. Will summer events be canceled or postponed? When will we get to see elderly relatives? Will our kids ever go back to school? Why didn’t I buy more toilet paper? With so many uncertainties in the world, the routine of having a job to come to each day gives people some peace of mind. However, many businesses have changed the way they operate. With the need for essential workers in the agriculture industry, you can help your employees cope by increasing communication and ensuring them that everything will be alright.
Hinda Mitchell, president of the Inspire PR Group, shares seven ideas on how to communicate with your team during these challenging times.
Overcommunicate. But keep it simple. Your employees are on information overload right now, so keep your messages short, to the point and upbeat. Mitchell suggests using both the push strategy and pull strategy for disseminating information. Push information out via email, text messages and even a private website dedicated to the particular crisis. Provide additional information that might be useful to employees so they can pull from that information when needed. At BioZyme®, a private webpage was started for employees that discussed new safety and health protocols, how and when to report any sickness, who to ask for help when working remotely and offered updated information from the CDC and WHO that employees could look at as they wanted.
Focus on health and safety. Personal health and safety of your employees and customers should come first. Make sure you are providing the resources needed to keep your team safe: disinfectant sprays and wipes to gloves or masks. Encourage your staff to continue a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and exercise; spring is a great time to be outside and get some fresh air.
Provide extra support. Everyone has a unique situation, and it is imperative to be understanding during these times. Identify the circumstances of each individual and offer them resources that might be helpful. This could range from needing childcare due to school closures or caring for a loved one.
Clarity is key. “Be crystal clear on your employee expectations, benefits and other personnel matters during this time. What are they supposed to do if they or a loved one falls ill? What is your PTO, sick time and absentee policy? What have you done to change or enhance benefits to address this unique time? Now is not the time for rigidity; flexibility should drive as much of human resources decision-making as possible,” Mitchell writes.
Little things matter. Show your employees you care with a catered lunch, a small note of appreciation, a gift card for gas or groceries or even a verbal thank-you. If you see or talk to a person who doesn’t seem their normal self, ask them if they are alright and offer to get them help. Sometimes being a listening ear is all a person needs. Your gesture doesn’t need to be substantial to be remembered.
Do the right thing. During any crisis it is imperative to follow the orders of all government officials – local, state and federal. It is also important to exercise patience with your employees. Reassurance about their jobs, the industry and the state of the world is always a good thing during times of chaos.
Remind them the challenges are temporary. Although every day might seem like a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day,” this is a short-term challenge, and normalcy will return. There is always a storm before a rainbow, and though the times might seem tough, brighter days are ahead.
Communicating with your employees is critical to keeping them informed, calm and feeling like part of the team during any challenge. Be sure that you stay calm and level-headed. Don’t panic or use harsh language. Be the leader they need in a time of uncertainty to show that you care, and you will be able to get the best back from them. That is what “Care that Comes Full Circle” is all about.