How to talk about coronavirus at work

Here are some communication strategies to keep your team well informed as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread.

4 min read

The opinions expressed by employees are personal.

How to talk about coronavirus at work
How to talk about coronavirus at work

There is no doubt that concerns regarding the coronavirus are increasing as more cases arise in the world. With the current volatility of the stock market, along with forecasts of global logistics and supply chain problems , entrepreneurs must be prepared to have conversations with their employees and customers regarding an outbreak.

In my company, Fierce Conversations , we believe that these conversations should occur sooner rather than later. Below are the four objectives of an effective conversation that we recommend that any leader use to help frame conversations and get to the heart of how employees are dealing:

Discover the reality

What is the current status of the people in your office? How comfortable do people feel? Do not assume that you are not worried about your health if you are not using mask covers like crazy. Search proactively to find out how everyone feels and do what you can to fully understand their fears. This could be establishing one-on-one meetings with your employees and encouraging all team managers to do the same. Or maybe you can be more proactive and ask questions from the team. Once feedback is provided, company leaders can view the situation in a comprehensive manner and determine the best way to address the problems with a more complete view of the reality of the situation. Many assumptions are made in these situations instead of actually asking employees.

Encourage learning

Knowledge is power in these types of situations. What can you do to help educate your employees? What resources can you provide regarding logistics or health that will be most useful? The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health have some useful tips for workplaces, which is a good place to start. You may also want to consider putting someone, or a team of people, in charge of answering questions and spreading information to employees about the epidemic. Knowing that someone is aware of things and will communicate them effectively can be a great help in relieving fears.

Face your toughest challenge

If a bigger outbreak occurs, what will be the biggest challenge for your business? How can you deal with this proactively and prepare as much as possible before a major emergency arises? What can you do to calm concerns about these challenges? For example, many organizations are canceling trips, or even asking their employees to work from home in some cases. Don't overlook the importance of communicating how these challenges could specifically affect your business and your people.

Enrich the relationship

Take this time to really understand your team and recognize the opportunity to join and solve problems. Ask key questions: what is the ideal way to move forward as a team? What are the big fears and how do we deal with them better? Crisis times can highlight holes within an organization, but they can also result in greater appreciation and loyalty of employees, if handled correctly. Employees remember how leaders and the company treat them during difficult times, often more than in good times. Now is the time to continue investing in the experience of your employees.

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