Communication with Internal Stakeholders
During a Pandemic outbreak, the organization often looks outward to their external stakeholders - their customers and clients, the media, the regulatory governmental bodies, their creditors, their suppliers - and offer them the assurance that the organization is doing everything in its power to keep customers safe and prevent the spread of the infectious disease.
However, organizations must also look inwards towards their internal stakeholders - the employees, managers, and management team of the organization - and understand that a separate set of principles of internal communication need to be applied to these internal stakeholders.
Considerations When Communicating
When communicating with internal stakeholders, there are some considerations to take note of.
A pandemic is a time of uncertainty and doubt for everyone, especially when it revolves around novel coronaviruses like COVID-19. Nobody initially knows what is happening, and information trickles in bit by bit. It is important to frame any communication messages with internal stakeholders with compassion, empathy, and understanding. Ensure that you understand the needs, expectations, and fears of your staff and tailor any messages sent out accordingly
Over-communicate Key Messages
The organization should constantly provide updates, big and small, to employees regarding information about the Pandemic, its developments, personal safety measures they are encouraged and required to take, as well as the safeguards put in place by the organization. Never assume that the employees are aware of the actions that the organization are putting in place to safeguard their health; it needs to be communicated to them in a constant and timely manner.
Keep the Lines of Communications Open-ended and Both Ways
The relevant staff with communication duties should make themselves available at certain times of the day to handle questions regarding the Pandemic Outbreak. Certain common questions, like necessary travel, work-related exposure to the infectious disease, and no-paid leave, are some of the issues that need to be answered and assured. Additionally, staff should be open to coming to you for feedback on how the Pandemic is progressing.
In a follow up to the point on Empathy above, any messages prepared for employees should be checked for tone before being sent out. A Pandemic, as mentioned above, is a time of stress and uncertainty, and it is important that messages convey calm, certainty, and confidence. The wording is important. Unintentionally or unconsciously, your message may be conveying panic or uncertainty and might be prudent to read it out to yourself before sending it out.
Within weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many organizations across the globe have demanded that staff use their vacation days if they need to self-quarantine. Not only will this discourage employees from self-quarantine when necessary, but sends clear a message that the organization does not prioritize the employee's health or respect them. Avoid measures that kill morale.
For more about communication to your external stakeholder, click the icon.
Organization, E. (2020, March 16). 10 Steps to Effective Coronavirus Crisis Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/entrepreneurs-organization/10-steps-to-effective-coronavirus-crisis-leadership.html
Communication Strategy for Stakeholder Engagement. (2019, March 13). Retrieved from https://www.sustainet.com/communication-strategy-for-stakeholder-engagement/
Spain, J. (n.d.). Effective Communications with Internal Stakeholders. Retrieved from https://www.fuentek.com/blog-post/effective-communications-with-internal/
Do You Want to Continue Training During A COVID-19 Pandemic Outbreak?
Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Infectious Disease Business Continuity Plan, 2nd Edition. GMH Pte Ltd.