Often, when we talk about workforce readiness, we mean the degree to which people are ready to join the workforce. These days, however, COVID has changed what it means to be workforce ready. Many employees are still dealing with the challenges of juggling personal and familial responsibilities with their career. Others are figuring out how to return to the store, restaurant, or office after quarantine or remote work. In this article, we discuss how good communication is key to business success during COVID and beyond.
Use Clear Communication to Inspire a Ready Workforce
Although there’s a COVID vaccine available, it will be a while yet before everyone gets their shot. Until then, you must carry on with your business. Your employees must attend to their daily work, whether on site or remotely. To get them to be effective and productive, you should be forthright and clear in your communications. Be honest about what is going on and any changes you intend to make to the business as we inch toward recovery. Your staff need to know you will tell them the facts, both good news and bad.
In light of the pandemic, many businesses owners have felt the need to re-evaluate or communicate the purpose of their organization to employees and customers. Essentially, COVID has caused businesses to consider their broader purpose in society and whether that purpose meets the needs of stakeholders. In a KPMG study, for example, 77% of leaders believed that their company purpose has provided them with a clear framework for making quick and effective COVID-19 related decisions.
Clear and consistent messaging helps. When you communicate with employees, remind them about the company purpose. A strong sense of purpose can help team members feel engaged, motivated, and invested in the success of the business. They’ll be ready to return to the workforce and more likely to hit the ground running when they do.
Actions That Can Help Improve Communication with Your Workforce
Here are some actions you can take to achieve good communication with your workforce and help them get ready (or stay ready) for work:
- Remain engaged. Engage with the whole team, including both remote and frontline workers. Real-time, personal communications are important. Be consistent about health and safety issues. Offer policy updates and operational guidance as needed.
- Be available. Keep the communication lines open. Employees need to know that their leaders and mentors are present and working hard on their behalf to keep them safe, informed, and employed.
- Be transparent. Be honest about the company and its prospects. Inform people about your plans for the workforce as things transition. Will there be layoffs? Will there be rehires? If you don’t know yet, you should at least be prepared to tell your staff what you do know.
- Centralize channels. Centralizing communication channels is a good idea in times like these. Keep updating your internal company portal or other platform about policy changes as they happen. Share relevant news. Create a FAQ section. People who seek information will then have a place to get quick and easy answers.
- Remember, fake news and misinformation can damage your business. False information can flourish in a vacuum. To solve this problem, don’t let there be a vacuum. Offer accurate details. Try to be positive but genuine about the facts.
- Encourage two-way communication. This is more important than ever. A hotline or support desk can offer immediate answers to employee questions.
- Be a company employees can count on. Personal actions and commitments from leadership can help communicate that “we are all in this together.” By engaging in clear communication, your workforce will know that they can count on you, which will in turn inspire better engagement.
Leverage Your Built-in Messaging Tools
Fortunately, modern technology can be a big help in improving communication with your workforce. If you use a labor management software like TimeForge, you already have built-in tools to help you communicate things like policy updates. You also have a messaging service at your disposal. This service is available from any browser or from your phone using our labor management mobile apps.
Together, these tools can be leveraged to enhance how you communicate with your employees. Under pandemic conditions, your messages can reach people on a more personal level, in real time. This ability to message the entire workforce can have an immediate impact if used well.
Workforce Readiness Depends on Good Communication
Messages from business leaders can be very effective in times of crisis. Done right, leadership messages can be uplifting and inspirational. They can be used to remind employees about the company purpose and why each individual’s contribution to the company matters. Employees will feel less stressed, more engaged, and more invested in the company’s success. During COVID, this means they’ll be more ready to return to the workforce after quarantine and more prepared for post-pandemic recovery.
For more advice, check out our workforce readiness checklist or our article on workforce health and safety.