As the Coronavirus outbreak spreads across the world, notably affecting countries that represent 40 percent of the global economy, businesses are scrambling to respond to the pandemic. Massive operational changes are starting to come into effect, including closing affected sites, halting all company travel, and cancelling or postponing major events. Given this response, the most important thing an organisation can focus on during a crisis like COVID-19 is putting their employees first.
Communicating with clarity, speed, and being able to ensure the effectiveness of your reach, targeting and receipt of critical messages is paramount in a crisis. With so much misinformation, companies and leaders need to be reliable and credible in sharing information and answering questions. You need to be the source of truth for your employees.
So how are top organisations handling crisis communications of COVID-19?
Since the outbreak, the number of posts by SocialChorus customers to their employees referencing COVID-19 has surged. This trend tracks with general search trends as the virus spreads outside of China. Organisations recognise the impact the pandemic is having and are responding with more communications to address employee concerns. Based on the results we’re seeing as of this publication date, it appears we have not yet reached the peak of employee communications for this topic.
From our current analysis we can see that companies are publishing multiple forms of content to their employees ranging from long-form articles to links, notes, images and videos. Articles are by far the most popular piece of content to send accounting for 62.5% of all publications followed by links and videos. These businesses are opting to inform employees with more in-house information that’s easily referenceable for future use.
With crisis communications, it’s imperative to reach your entire workforce, whether they’re in the corporate office or front line, with the right information at the right time. We found that businesses are using SocialChorus to create their official messages and then publishing them across multiple endpoints – such as email, mobile apps, intranet, chat applications, digital signage and more to ensure all employees are reached. We’re also seeing organisations target specific populations of employees with personalised messaging and re-target them to ensure employees acknowledge receipt. And because communications are time sensitive employers are also taking advantage of automatic translations in their communications to reach employees in the language they prefer.
It’s not surprising that employees are engaging with employer communications about COVID-19. Across 836 posts about the Coronavirus shared over the last 30 days, we’ve found that over 4.6 million impressions were delivered resulting in 650,000 clicks and 800,000 comments. Employees want to know how their organisations are handling the outbreak and are ready to engage with this content to stay informed. Being prepared for questions and the need to address employee comments directly and promptly to provide guidance and stop the spread of misinformation has never been more important.
Content is King
We’ve found that employees want official communications from their employers to provide clarity. As such we’ve found that the most popular posts so far cover the following topics:
· Travel updates
· Leadership messages
· Prevention measures
· Updated workforce protocols.
The most popular messages are from corporate communications, the CEO and other senior members of the leadership team. Their messages are focused on reassuring employees that actions are being taken and also focus on encouraging best practices to stay healthy.
Additionally, we’ve noticed that most businesses are consolidating all communications into one dedicated Coronavirus channel to keep communications organised. This approach increases trust and creates a greater sense of what communications are official versus hearsay. Healthcare organisations in particular are using dedicated channels to provide frequent updates across all their hospitals and key “need to know” information for their employees.
Top Tips on How to Manage Crisis Communications
We’ve gathered the best practices we’ve seen from our enterprise customers during this time of crisis communications. These findings highlight a few key ways to keeping your message contained and effectively communicating a crisis:
· Publish once. Reach everyone. Having a way to quickly and effectively reach all your employees is invaluable. Ease of publishing means you spend less time worrying HOW your message will reach employees and more time on strategically communicating. This means one-time publishing across all of your digital channels, quick targeting and personalisation for each group or individual, and automatic translations.
· Target specific groups of employees in real time. Employees in different locations have different concerns so you should consider tailoring your messages to be more effective. Automatic user management allows enterprises to sync and manage large lists of employee data and attributes to create targeted employee groups for specific communications.
· Ensure Delivery, Drive Action, & Track Acknowledgement. Don’t assume that just because you’ve sent the communications, that employees have absorbed that information. Be certain that your message has reached them through direct employee acknowledgements on each announcement. During a crisis, it’s incredibly valuable to be able to easily pull reports on which groups and individuals have taken action. We’ve found that companies can reach employees 2.7X faster by using a smart campaign as opposed to traditional forms of communication.
· Effective Crisis Communications Requires Measurement. Tracking and measuring communications in real-time allows you to quickly adjust your strategy and make more informed decisions going forward. Not only can you see the outcomes of specific campaigns and whether or not employees have officially acknowledged your message, but you can also see the impact of all of your Coronavirus communications. Proper communications analytics give business the ability to be agile and respond to a fast-changing environment. Effective crisis communications depends on these insights.
· Focus On Your Message. Not Infrastructure and Security. When communicating a crisis like the COVID-19 epidemic, having global infrastructure and security at scale is necessary. Organisations need to get the message out quickly without worrying about deliverability. That means zero points of failure from network to application, best-in-class security and the lowest possible downtime.
And finally, remember that employees need a source of truth, especially in times of crisis and misinformation. They are relying on their employers to share accurate and helpful information to keep themselves and their families safe. Don’t let rumours become fact. Keep employees in the know on how the company is preparing for COVID-19 with a secure workforce communications platform that can reach every worker.
Written by Nicole Alvino, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer.