Communicating with employees in a crisis

Fears about the future combined with the sudden switch to homeworking make this a challenging time for employees and managers alike. Streisan Bevan, a former Facebook executive who is now an operations partner at Mercia, offers some tips on how to connect with and manage staff working remotely:

  1. Understand how they feel – surveys show that while older workers have most at fear of catching Covid-19, the pandemic has had the greatest social impact on 18 to 34-year-olds who may going through a period of grieving for their lost freedom. However, each person’s experience will be different and some may have lost family members. Be open and transparent about how you are feeling and staff will take comfort from that.
  2. Establish an architecture for decision making – and empower managers to make those decisions. Identify quick wins – what could we accomplish quickly? ‘Meet’ regularly and use video to communicate with the team. Although it is certainly not business as usual, don’t miss the opportunity to talk about the future and discuss plans.
  3. Learn to manage employees working remotely – ensure they have the necessary equipment, and establish a direct line of communications, such as weekly team meetings. Be sure to take notes – it is now even more important to keep a record of decisions.
  4. Focus on impact – set clear expectations about the desired outcome and what needs to be done, rather than the number of hours worked. For teams working on critical projects, consider having daily ‘stand-ups’ where each person gives an update, and post a summary on a shared group.
  5. Keep teams connected and engaged – in the current circumstances people are under more pressure than ever. Use online groups to create ‘water cooler moments’ to share experiences. Make sure tasks are distributed evenly and there is a back-up plan if someone needs to take time away. Encourage staff to stay connected and look after their own wellbeing.

About Streisan – Streisan is a Non-Executive Director and Operations Partner providing Digital Marketing, Product Development and Customer Insights expertise to PLC and PE-backed brands across the entertainment, travel and consumer leisure industries. With 20 years of experience working with brands, agencies and ad tech partners at Facebook, Bebo and MSN, she has a deep expertise in activating and optimising social, search, email, mobile, digital marketing, and defining customer-driven product solutions and strategy for a wide range of organisations.

 You can download a copy of Streisan’s presentation here.