The Coronavirus pandemic has put a greater emphasis on effective communication in all walks of life. There are many examples around the world of excellent communication styles and many more examples of where it could be better.
At a time when the lockdown restrictions are beginning to be relaxed and a return to many workplaces is being planned and contemplated, the need for effective communication with staff and customers is at a premium.
In this post, we’d like to share 6 fundamentals of effective communication.
1. CREATE TRUST
Employees and customers need information from trusted sources and they need to hear it at regular intervals. If incorrect information is given and shared, employers need to correct the information quickly to ensure that trust is re-established and maintained.
When too much time passes between communications, employees can and sometimes will tend to fill the void with inaccurate information from unreliable sources.
Importantly! Be honest about what you know – and don’t know – about the current situation.
2. MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY – HAVE ONE SET OF MESSAGES
Be consistent with the information and advice you are giving. This is crucial so that your employees know exactly what to do to reduce the spread of the virus and stay safe at work. Without clear and consistent messages, employees may make up their own minds about how to behave – which risks further spread of the virus.
3. COUNTER MYTHS AND MISINFORMATION
If rumours and misinformation begin, it is tempting to ignore them in the hope that they lose energy and dissipate on their own. However, this is a poor course of action and strongly discouraged. It is better to create a system to dispel myths and rumours and correct the information by sharing the clear, accurate, agreed messages that come from trusted sources.
4. PROMOTE ACTION
There can be no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and has impacted everyone. Many people don’t know what to do and why to do it. Anxiety right now is completely normal, but we need to balance that with action to avoid people and business paralysis and stagnation. By giving your employees concrete things to do and focus on will help to calm anxiety and will promote a restored sense of control.
Workplace action is not possible for those who are furloughed, but employers still have a responsibility for employees mental health and well-being. You can support furloughed workers by maintaining regular contact, discuss their well-being and encourage them to stay active.
Throughout the world, we have already seen social norms changing such as avoiding physical contact through handshakes and embracing when meeting. Employers need to be role models for changing social norms and discuss with staff what they can do to protect themselves especially when businesses return to work, e.g.: vigorous handwashing, avoiding public events and settings; and keeping social distance from others.
5. SHOW EMPATHY
It is a well-worn cliché, especially in current government communications to the public, but it is especially true today that ‘we are all in this together’. Employers need communication that reflects this. You must help staff to understand that they need to take action for personal safety, for the success of the business, and for the greater good of the community.
6. ENCOURAGE FEEDBACK
Research shows that employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. When employees are informed and engaged, businesses perform better. Remember, communication is a two-way process and is especially important now.
If you need help, just ask!
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