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Suzanna Monckton
3 minutes length
Posted: 20th March 2020

Here to Help: Communicating through uncertainty – 6 tips for SMEs

Anxiety is high among employees concerned how the Coronavirus crisis is going to affect their world over the next few months and beyond.

And with SMEs across the country facing difficult decisions on how to keep business going during the pandemic, strong communication is paramount during this uncertain time.

During times of change and uncertainty, human beings crave information. But what should you tell your employees if you have no concrete answers just yet? Or when the information you have is changing at the speed of light?

We’re sharing 6 tips to help…

  1. Tell them you’re going to tell them

Set a schedule of communication so your employees know when they’ll hear from you next – daily works well while the state of play is moving quickly, and commit to a set time of day if you can. Even though the information we’re receiving from the outside world is rapidly changing, regular communications will offer a small piece of reassurance to your people that you’ll be bringing them the latest information as soon as it’s available. 

2. Tell them

One of the most important things you can do is to craft your communications clearly. Use plain English, focus on facts, and state the actions you’ll be taking based on the information you have. If you set up daily communications and there’s nothing new to say that day, simply say that and then reiterate the actions you already have underway.

3. Tell them you’ve told them

Living through such an unprecedented situation can cause a lot of confusion. So, it’s important that you repeat key messages to your employees. Use different communication channels, such as email, a dedicated intranet page, SMS, phone calls, and internal messaging sites to reiterate information, and include face-to-face options where you can – in the current circumstances, this is likely to be virtually through video call or live streaming.

4. Show your face

In times of crisis, your employees need to know that their bosses are dealing with the situation and that they have their employees at the forefront of their decision making.

5. Focus on your people

During such a difficult time for SMEs, no business owner or director would be blamed for focusing on the business side of the decisions they’re having to make. But you must remember that your people are the beating heart of everything your business does. Show empathy, be accommodating and aim to build a sense of community in every communication you create. You need your people to know that you and they are in this together, and you’ll get through the uncertainty by sticking together.

6. Encourage conversation

Build in opportunities for your employees to tell you how they are feeling throughout the crisis. If your business is too large for you to be able to speak to each team member individually, there are lots of other ways you can encourage conversation. Again, assuming it’s not possible for you to hold face-to-face sessions, conference calls can work well. Or perhaps you have an internal messaging site where you can all share messages. You could also set up a dedicated email address people could send questions to. Whichever way works for you, it’s important that your people have a forum to let you know what they’re worried about, how they’re feeling, and how you can help.

More from IRIS HR Professional

HR tips

We’ll be sharing more HR tips to help your support your employees through the Coronavirus crisis in the coming days and weeks – keep an eye on our blog and social media.

If your employees are working from home, our sister brand, Cascade HR, is sharing five simple ways you can keep a sense of community and camaraderie while your people are working remotely. Read it here

Our software

To find out how our software can help your response to the Coronavirus, including your business continuity planning, take a look at our recent blog here