Amid the recent Corona outbreak that has infected more than 3,00,000 people globally, organisations are looking at effective measures to handle their communications
By Neha Yaduvanshi
The recent Coronavirus outbreak has created havoc globally. The virus originated in Wuhan, China where more than 80,000 people were infected and more than 3500 have reportedly lost their lives. The virus has spread to more than 100 countries and has infected more than 3,00,000 people globally. India has announced more than 300 confirmed cases so far, where 6 people have lost their lives because of the virus.
Organisations all around the globe are currently working on creating communication plans to ensure that the temporary lock down of gatherings does not affect the businesses. Each organisation knows that they need a plan at hand in case an emergency arises. But, when an actual situation arises, we seem to be taken back. The recent COVID-19 has emerged as a global emergency.
This is the exact situation companies might find themselves in if an effective communications plan is not set into action. Many organisations have now started to think about the well being of their employees. Originally, there should have been a plan to deal with such a crisis. With confirmed cases surging each day, developing a communication plan is an immediate concern. Here are a few tips that need to be followed for effective communication during this outbreak.
Creating a force team
Leaving aside big players, most organisations do not have a crisis team for situations like these. Now is the time to make such a team. You can start off by bringing functional and effective leaders from your organisation together who are capable of identifying, and rectifying the issues that need to be addressed. Train your human resources (HR) department for situations like these. Weigh in the legal team, operations, marketing and communication heads also. Brief each individual about their responsibilities in order to avoid any miscommunication.
Come up with a protocol
The plan that your communications team comes up with will take action about the situation that is known today. But epidemics like COVID-19 are unexpected and we don’t know what turn it might take. It is impossible to know what the situation will be like in 3 months or more. Hence, developing a protocol for managing new situations is crucial. Concerns like how the crisis should be identified, who will take responsibility should be taken care of. The protocol doesn’t necessarily have to be a detailed process, it should just be ideas about how new situations will be tackled.
Prioritise issues that need immediate attention
An organisation cannot function without its employees. Making sure that the employees feel healthy should be the top most priority. Healthy employees means good business. Reading and understanding the guidelines provided by experts should be read and employees should be briefed accordingly. Ensuring hand wash, use of sanitizers during COVID-19 like unfortunate situations can help limit the virus. About the events and meetings planned, decisions should be taken quickly but intelligently. Avoiding meetings with large gatherings, conferences with audiences should be avoided. But at the same time it should be ensured that if an in person meeting is cancelled, a digital one is encouraged. Also, thinking about the personal situations of employees. Most probably during this time of crisis employees with children might worry more. How to support them and make life smooth for them should be thought about. A disaster like COVID-19 is sure to affect the business but you need to keep in mind what measures should be taken to ensure that you work for the benefit of the firm.
Maintain open communications with employees
It is obvious that many workers might face disruption in their normal schedule or here may be issues with the income. Companies that are in the manufacturing business might need to temporarily shut shop, which will lead to financial trouble. If the company has a good communications team, it would be a lot easier for them to explain what is happening and why it is happening. The communications team should make sure they know how to deal with such an emergency. Maintaining transparent communication with the employees is the key to stability in the firm.
Organisations that maintain transparency and support their employees during this time are bound to be successful. Companies who fail to take responsibility and scare off easily lose their name and credibility in the market. What needs to be done is to make the best of this unfortunate epidemic and prepare for any other worst situation to come. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worse.
The author is a communications expert and founder CEO of Vastada Consulting