The pandemic has brought a significant amount of change to the workplace, resulting in employers needing to actively re-engage their workforce using effective change management strategies and crisis communication principles. Below we have outlined a few ways you can apply these strategies to address the impacts the past year has had on your organization and your employees.
Human Resources and other leaders within an organization play a critical role in successfully leading employees through change. As you know, COVID-19 laws, regulations, and guidance are constantly evolving and are frequently updated. It is essential to formulate strategic plans regarding how the organization will comply with the new laws and/or guidance.
Be prepared to stay on top of legislative issues and proactively communicate rights and responsibilities to employees. Change can be difficult, and employees often do not understand the reasons for change. When change is necessary, the strategic focus should be on building and maintaining trust within the organization. Putting a communication plan in place, being consistent, and following through will help to establish trust among employees. Change will be a constant in our organizations as we attempt to operate more efficiently and effectively post COVID-19 while building and maintaining employee engagement.
The adoption of crisis communication principles may help you to stabilize your culture, add some credibility to your communications within your organization, and promote engagement.
Those principles are proactivity, transparency, and empathy.
- Proactivity – Clearly demonstrate your vision for the future of your organization.
- Transparency – Be honest and direct with your employees. Do not mask truth.
- Empathy – Demonstrate to your employees that you care through your words and actions.
Here are a few strategies and best practices that can be applied throughout your organization in the communication process:
- Frequency & Format – Be mindful of how often you communicate with your employees as well as the way you deliver communication. For example, individual meetings, team meetings, email communications, or intranet. Be sure the flow of information is consistent and fits your organization’s culture. Make sure your employees are receiving and understanding company-wide communications.
- Content & Tone – Keep your organization’s core principals, vision, and values in mind when preparing to communicate with employees. Be sure to share relevant content that is important to employees at the time of the communication such as how the organization is doing and current priorities.
- Leadership Communication – Utilize your leadership team to communicate with their teams in a way that helps the employees understand how decisions are made.
- Listen – To help employees to feel valued and recognized, consider scheduling individual or team check-in meetings on a regular basis. If employees are struggling, exhibit empathy, provide coaching and support, and know when to refer employees to your organization’s employee assistance program, if necessary.
As more employees return to the office, assess how your organization’s team dynamics may have changed during the pandemic. Determine what has changed and what has stayed the same. Help your team to better understand those changes as well as what will continue as status quo.
Here are some strategies that may help to re-engage employees as they return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Check in with your employees regularly using confident language and tone, keeping the employee’s perspective in mind. Consider the employee’s communication preferences and adjust accordingly.
- Solicit feedback from your employees to better understand their perspective on the changes that have been made in day-to-day business operations, what has surprised them, and what the organization can do more of, less of, or do differently.
- Re-think remote working practices to determine if essential job functions may continue to be performed effectively remotely.
- Provide coaching, as needed, to employees who lack confidence or may need some assistance re-adjusting to working on-site versus working remotely.
- Set clear expectations by creating new policies and updating existing policies as needed, communicate clearly and promptly with employees, and ensure employees understand changes and expectations that have been communicated.
Organizations who proactively engage their employees tend to experience higher retention and productivity rates.
HR Works Can Help
HR Works assists clients with communicating and engaging employees during these challenging times, while also ensuring proper steps are being taken to remain compliant with changing legislation. To learn more about how HR Works can help, contact us today.