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Communications Key to Managing Workplace Covid Stress

Communications Key to Managing Workplace Covid Stress

As I write this blog, at the end of June 2020, we are several months into dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges to employers and workers continue but are evolving.

Some workers are returning to the workplace. Others are seeing work-from-home arrangements extended through year’s end or will be making working from home their permanent arrangement.

Then, there are the workers who never stopped working on-site due to the nature of their job or for financial considerations. And, while some furloughed employees are coming back on the job, others are learning (or waiting to learn) whether they will be permanently laid off.

It is not uncommon for an employer to have workers in each of these categories and therefore for workers to have colleagues whose work is affected very differently by the pandemic.

These complex dynamics pose a new level of threat to worker wellbeing and organizational health. On APQC’s June 30th, 2020 webinar, organizational and leadership advisor, Jane Walton will talk about how planful communications can help employees and organizations navigate these times of complex change.

Recently, I conducted an email interview with Jane Walton to ask her about communications and change. Here is what she had to say.

APQC: Why is it important that organizations take a planful approach to communicating with employees right now?

Jane Walton: Planful communications can reduce stress and uncertainty and increase employee trust. In employee satisfaction surveys employees consistently list communications as a top 3 area that needs to be improved in their organization. 

APQC: What are some essential things that organizations should be communicating about with employees right now?

Jane Walton: Their Covid plan—processes, expectations, client management, responses to employee feedback. 

APQC: What should organizations be sure to avoid in terms of how they communicate with employees right now?

Jane Walton: Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  No one knows what the months ahead will bring. 

APQC: Are there differences in how senior leaders versus front-line managers should be approaching employee communications right now? If yes, can you describe a couple?

Jane Walton: Senior leaders need to have their communication approach and process thoroughly thought out and agreed upon. If you say you want to be transparent, then everyone needs to agree on the definition of transparent. Before any company-wide communications go out, organizations need to tell their front-line managers first so those managers are equipped to answer their team’s questions. This process is also a good way to vet information before it goes out. Front-line managers may make recommended changes to decisions (they see things that leaders at the top don’t).

APQC: You will be speaking on an APQC webinar on June 30th. What can attendees expect to learn?

Jane Walton: I’ll talk about human behaviors and what people need from their leaders. We will also discuss how to be intentional about your communications, establishing operations expectations, and developing a communications plan structure.

Register for the webinar today: Effective Communications in Times of Change - Plan Now or Pay Later!