ICYMI: 10 Resources to help leaders improve COVID-19 communications

by Sean Oliver, on April 28, 2020

Just like the rest of the world, we’ve been soaking up as much information as possible about COVID-19 and its impacts, in an effort to help Crew customers find clarity and build resilience in the face of the current health crisis. As we move past the outbreak’s peak in most parts of the U.S. and hopefully head towards the downslope of the curve, we thought we’d take a brief pause to share some of the most helpful resources we’ve uncovered.
In case you missed it (ICYMI), below are several useful best practices, reports, and conversations from across the web that we believe can support frontline leaders as you prepare for the next phase of the pandemic.
Best Practices from the Frontline
1. Kroger’s Blueprint for Businesses: The smart folks over at Kroger’s decided early on to be as transparent as possible, and shared a handy resource page with the lessons they’ve learned in recent months. It includes recommendations, insights, best practices and even downloadable creative assets to help all sorts of businesses make it through the pandemic.
2. How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic: This Texas Monthly Q&A interview with another forward-looking grocer describes how H-E-B got ahead of the outbreak. Key execs discussed how they started communicating with Chinese counterparts in January and ran tabletop simulations just a few weeks later. We can all benefit from emulating their proactive approach to considering all potential resources, and truly listening and paying close attention to - and responding to - what was going on in their stores.
3. Cousins Subs on Communicating through Crisis: During a QSR Magazine podcast interview, the Wisconsin-based sandwich chain CEO Christine Specht shared how knowing her team’s strengths prepared her to respond quickly when the pandemic struck. She also explained why communications—both to guests and to franchisees—has been a huge priority for the business.
4. Marriott’s CEO Message: Anyone who’s striving to deliver human, empathic communications to employees in difficult times should take five minutes to watch this video message from Marriott International’s President and CEO Arne Sorenson. Rebecca Ray, who leads the Conference Board’s U.S. Human Capital Center, applauded his powerful approach of communicating with the company’s associates, saying, “Think about how emotionally authentic and impactful his remarks were. Hopefully, not too many leaders will have to deliver that particular message. But if they do, that was a masterful example."
Additionally, we recently posted some inspiring real-world examples of how Crew customers in the food service, hospitality, and healthcare industries have adapted to the new normal.
Valuable Insights from Industry Experts
5. Retail Responds Workforce Management Guidance: Global strategic consulting practice Axsium is publishing weekly webinars and blog posts for retailers during coronavirus. We especially appreciated the great insights they shared in last week’s session on “Leveraging Employee Mobility During The Pandemic,” which touched on the challenges of ensuring that employees both get the right messages from corporate, and have a way to communicate back and ask questions as needed.
6. Business Continuity Advice for Retailers: Kelsie Marian of Gartner detailed some guidelines in RetailDive to help leaders better plan and prepare for the unexpected. On the topic of organizational transparency, she wrote, “The COVID-19 outbreak can serve as a catalyst for proper crisis communications channels to be set up to deal with future, related scenarios. Keep a regular cadence of communication on status updates for staff and customers and be clear on the challenges you are facing.”
7. Edelman Trust Barometer, Special Report on COVID-19: Edelman’s 10-country study from early March revealed some fascinating findings that should inform communications strategies throughout the pandemic. In particular, the data showed what we intuitively know to be true—that people feel their most credible source for information about the virus is employer communications (as opposed to government or media sources).
8. How Business Communicators are Handling the Crisis: This research and webinar from The Institute for Public Relations and communications firm Peppercomm noted an increase in internal communication efforts, with 81% of respondents saying that communicating to employees about COVID-19 is a “high” or “essential” priority for the company. In addition to intranets, microsites, and other internal sites, many organizations are opening hotlines, offering FAQs on their sites, and opting for mobile apps.
9. HR’s Role in Business Continuity: Our friends at Kronos, a workforce software provider, compiled thoughtful advice for HR professionals, who play a critical role in any corporate crisis. This eBook explores plans and strategies for managing internal communications, tracking employee awareness and identifying risks, setting up a virtual workplace, prioritizing employee support and well-being, and asking questions.
10. Practical Workforce Strategies that Put People First: Deloitte learned that from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the immediate focus of employers in China was on ensuring the health and safety of their employees. This report shares key insights around three deeply connected dimensions of an organization: work (the what), workforce (the who), and workplace (the where). It emphasizes the importance of setting the right tone from the top, noting, “How leaders behave during critical moments leaves a lasting mark on corporate culture. Proactivity, consistency in message, and modeling behaviors as the situation evolves is paramount.”
Along these lines, we also held our own webinar with Alex Budak, lecturer at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and expert on crisis leadership, last week, who offered tips on how to lead with resilience in times of uncertainty. Stay tuned for more COVID-19 resources from Crew and around the web.
If you believe your team could benefit from real-time communication, please reach out: we are waiving fees for businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 for the duration of the crisis and are offering one-day deployment and onboarding for new customers. We’d love to help.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear about any tools or content you’ve found to be particularly helpful during these trying times. Please share them with us on Twitter!
Image source: Kroger