In times of crisis, one thing is certain – people will seek information. They’ll search online. They’ll read the news. They’ll ask their friends and family. They’ll check their social networks. They’ll even rely on their employers for guidance.
And in times of significant crisis, like the one we’re living in right now – people are not just seeking information. They are demanding it, but not in a “give me everything you got” kind of way. They are seeking truth. They are seeking transparency. People want timely information because information – the right information – will help them make the best choices for themselves and for their families.
As a firm that has worked with many companies, large and small, Gagen MacDonald understands how times of confusion and anxiety can affect employees. And, how and what you communicate to whom, and when, is critical. You have to remember, not all people deal with issues – let alone a global pandemic – with ease and patience. For some, it’s more like panic and uncertainty (or maybe that’s just me). It’s stressful and anxiety-ridden. With the right tone and cadence, though, companies and their leaders can help guide their people through this particularly challenging time.
One place to start is your company’s intranet. It’s the one place your people will naturally go to for answers if it’s done right.
Here are 9 things you can do now with your intranet to ease employee anxiety and tension.
- Start a microsite dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak. Consider it the main (and only) destination for all things related to how the outbreak is impacting your company, including business continuity, travel guidance, compensation and leave, site closings, work from home policies, wellness tips and more. And don’t forget to dedicate a section for FAQs.
- Make it easy. However the site is created, use an easy platform that allows your content editor to write, edit and publish content quickly. Also, take advantage of the platform’s template layouts and designs to create a consistent look and feel cohesive to your other internal channels.
- Update daily. Unlike other news cycles that come and go, we are in it for the long haul. Be prepared to make daily updates to your microsite based on changing dynamics of this virus. Re-read all content and make sure it’s fresh and up to date. Re-arrange content if needed – giving top billing to the most important and relevant information.
- Collaborate. With large global companies, especially, it’s inevitable that multiple functions will want to contribute content (think HR, Security, Media Relations, Procurement, just to name a few). They have critical company updates to share, too.
- Crowdsource. Employees may have burning questions you’ve not thought of yet. Don’t forget to crowdsource them for topics. For things that bubble up to the top, find a way to add them to the site. It can be through the FAQs, for instance.
- Assign content owners. Managing the influx of requests, let alone a review process, is too much for just one or two people to shoulder. Create a team and agree on a governance process for content development and reviews.
- Marry facts with empathy. As you find yourself updating the microsite, remember who you are updating it for. It’s not just to help your leaders understand the travel policy or guide employees through how to work remote. Think of them as humans—moms, friends, uncles, recent grads, retirees—who are trying to figure out what the new normal is, what the new policies are, what new benefits can help them get through the day of managing a family, caring for the sick or staying healthy. Put yourself in their shoes. As an employee, what do you want to know? Remember that this is the one place your employees will go to for information.
- Don’t just share the bad. Share the good and inspire. Employees want to see positivity in all of this. They want to be reminded that we will come out the other side. Post stories of how people from all corners of your company are staying connected with each other, contributing to their communities and keeping their hopes up.
- Lastly, make it searchable. Even with the best site architecture, people may not spend time navigating your microsite. Add a search box. Most people want to find exactly what they are looking for without digging around too much. It can also give you data on what people are looking for the most, and you can tailor your site even more.
For reading this far, I have two bonus tips for you.
- First, don’t forget to promote your microsite. The last thing you want is for people to not know where to go. There are a few simple things you can do to make your site easy to find: Reference it in all employee communications. Link to it right from your intranet’s home page. Ask leaders to mention it in team meetings and town halls. And even add signage or digital screens in your offices and facilities to remind people of the URL.
- And second, cascade as you normally would. Before any major updates or policy changes are added to the site, be prepared to cascade the information first to leaders. They should be made aware of significant updates so they aren’t caught off guard when employees start asking questions. As you would with any other major announcements, consider giving leaders talking points or a leader FAQ.
If you think I’ve missed anything, I’d love to hear from you and compare notes.
To read more about our response to COVID-19, click here.