Industry Trends 5/13/2020

Business as Usual Is Gone. Let’s Plan for a Return to Better.

As the business world prepares to welcome employees back to the workplace, one thing stands out in all the knowledge-gathering: Communications are more important than ever.

Through weeks of news, research, surveys, webinars, and information overload, we’ve followed the trends and scoured the data to see how companies are communicating during COVID-19. We’ve gained insightful knowledge on how they’re getting ready for employees to return.

They trust you and are depending on you. 78% of people surveyed think businesses have a responsibility to ensure employees are protected from the virus in the workplace and don’t spread it into the community. Most also want to hear updates from their employer rather than the media. Make sure your leaders keep communicating honestly, and prepare front-line managers to be your best messengers.

Their well-being tops the list of concerns. 78% of companies surveyed say this is a top focus for the next six to eight weeks. Wellness benefits, especially EAP and mental health, aren’t the place to make budget cuts. Now’s the time to promote those benefits openly and often. The National Alliance for Mental Illness has a comprehensive COVID-19 guide.

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They won’t be fully engaged for a while. People are anxious and on edge, and they’ll need time to adjust and reconnect with their colleagues and their work purpose. This survey template from Ragan Consulting can help you gauge the mood. Frequent team meetings can help share knowledge and boost camaraderie. Also remember to be clear about expectations and new protocols.

You’ll need to communicate digitally. 48% of companies say they intend to improve digital channels, which have been a huge challenge. Videoconferencing is the norm, with MS Teams topping the list. For online screen-sharing, it’s Zoom. You can research engagement apps on Capterra’s website.

Your best human voice is what they want. Nearly 100% of the planet’s humans are feeling the effects of this pandemic. Employees are people, and they respond better to a human tone of voice. Ditch the corporate tone and go casual (authentic), remembering to use words like “we” and “you,” and definitely use contractions. Also, tell the human stories of how your communities, colleagues, and clients have helped others through these tough times.

Consider a gradual return. Gallup’s findings show that most companies plan to re-open by bringing back 10-30% of their employees, then gradually ramping up to 50-80%. Most don’t see a scenario where 100% of their employees return to their former workplace.

No matter when they return, or how many, employees will see big changes, and it will take time. Your role in how this plays out is critical, and how you communicate can make all the difference.

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