As people experience the quarantine and lockdown while the number of coronavirus cases increased, they developed new routines, norms, and shared understanding of how the business operates. Adjustments are to make sure companies will still be able to deliver the appropriate products, messages, and services for their customers, creditors, and co-workers. This pandemic has a long-standing impact on the business, stakeholders, partners, and employees. Depending on the nature of the business, Management should demonstrate concern and empathy through communication.
- Communicating with Customers
The business sector is one of the most affected groups that have need of effective communication strategies to update its customers. Staying connected with clients is essential to make them feel the connection, concern, and change that may take place to keep into the so-called the “new normal”. It is essential to update customers on the “new” guidelines and policies of the business, but more importantly, they want to feel that collaboration with them is looked-for while the management remains vigilant and focused on managing the operations smoothly.
Communication is desired to perform the plans while remaining relevant amid this pandemic. Below are some of the ways to communicate to convey to clients:
- Revisit or formulate a crisis communication plan that would apply during the pandemic period. Anchor this plan on honesty, transparency, and consistency.
- The availability of a person-in-charge or management team to talk to external stakeholders and clients is a must. Engagement can be through video conferencing and Zoom meetings where clients can directly receive responses from the management. This move can further promote trust and integrity.
- A formal communication to customers like direct mail is necessary to update the status of business during this crisis. Business owners can also utilize emails and other social media outlets like launching an official business Facebook account to report actions or any announcement from the management. The feedback mechanism is also encouraged in this outlet.
- Inform clients on how the business help mitigate the virus by improving the offices’ sanitation, enhance cleaning protocols, changes in the opening and closing of store hours, updated sick leave policies to employees, and many others.
- Email customers on new policy during a crisis to promote safety and security.
- Encourage online orders and debit to account for payment of goods and services to promote the no-contact method to clients.
- Management can revamp services and payments (like waiving delivery fees or extension of payment and purchase limit) to help clients recover from business losses.
2. Communicating with creditors
The company should connect with its creditors during this period. One of the best ways to deal with creditors is to accurately communicate the company’s current financial status and how it is affected in this crisis. If in case there will be a delay in payment of goods, a well-thought payment scheme can bridge gaps and reduce problems between the company and the creditor. The company may request payment deferrals, loan extension, revised term, or reduced interest rates. Prioritize creditors that need to settle payment immediately to avoid further interest or penalties. However, expect that they will study the payment history and other loans or investments before granting a request. Thus, creditors as partners in business need updating of the company’s condition. It is allowing them to give feedback and suggestions to improve the business warrants a healthy business partnership.
3. Communication with co-workers
Prioritize employees more than profit. Roll out the different safety measures that will fit their current working condition. In a crisis like this, managers should be able to react quickly to address the issues and to lessen the chaos among employees. It is also a time to check the company’s preparedness in terms of skills, technology, and equipment, and telework activities. Since many will adapt the work from home strategy, it is essential to lay down protocols, policies, and guidelines such as the business continuity plan (in times of a health hazard) that will guide their employees in delivering the work expected. The management could also review their regulations and procedures and make necessary adjustments to suit the present situation.
Will Eadie of VP Alliance at Workjam said, “When a pandemic like the coronavirus arises, managers must be able to react swiftly to potential location closures and employees concerned. To avoid further confusion and panic, companies should prepare the right strategy and tools to keep staff informed about updates to location hours, staffing, scheduling, and any new health and safety training.”
According to Eadie, the following steps can help control the panic associated with the spread of diseases such as the coronavirus.
- Start with education – HR professionals must first inform themselves thoroughly of the coronavirus and ensure that they have clear knowledge from verified sources. Share the right information. Do not add or subtract essential details.
- Appoint one person to communicate this information – Form one point of contact – an individual or a help desk/team to guide employees during this time. However, set up multiple communication channels.
- Communicate the sick leave policy around this time – While an organization may have a sick leave policy in place, ensure to remind and encourage employees to take time off if they start showing such symptoms.
- Define a clear business travel policy – Companies should make sure to offer their full assistance and take over travel-related issues so employees can focus on their work and staying healthy, especially with anyone who has been or is in an affected area be experiencing increased anxiety.
- Communicate policy on dealing with customers showing symptoms – In industries where employees directly interact with customers, it is essential to train them in the protocol to deal with those who may show symptoms.
- Maintain transparency in all communication – All communications from companies and HR to their employees must be totally crystal clear and come from a single source of truth. Connect often, maybe every day or every second day, and tell employees about the thought process to arrive at a particular decision. Let them know that the company is working to improve the situation and testing solutions that may be helpful for them – such as a work-from-home policy.
Aside from the working from home set up, companies can also think of ways to extend support to their people in terms of financial aid, health insurance and benefits, communication allowance, emergency leave, and hazard pay. In this way, workers will still be motivated to achieve high performance in their work, given the anxiety and uncertainty this crisis brings. Proper guidelines should be presented to all so that people can do their job well while following the company’s mandate and policies. Nobody wants this thing to happen. Even the management catches a surprise for the sudden change in managing people and their business.
The whole team must be intact while maintaining communications open and progressing. Although we are all in the experimental period, various ways can be recommended to the CEO or management to support the work from home approach.
- Creating and sending each employee an email is a reliable way to transmit messages. Responses are monitored and registered with date and time to observe the progress of the transaction.
- Technology has become vital in this most crucial time in the business sector. Videoconferencing, Skype, and Zoom meetings are options to use to carry on with the operations
- Maximize the use of social media outlets such as Viber and Messenger to make updates, reports, and records of proceedings to ensure high-quality work outputs
*Alexander Rosete is the General Manager of Pitch & Reach Pro Public Relations, Media and Communication Professionals, a communication management consulting and professional services company. Contact details are as follows: