Communicating with Employees During a Crisis

Don’t wait for disaster to strike before figuring out how to communicate with employees during a crisis. Paul Barton, ABC, and other crisis communication experts discuss how to prepare for a crisis in this article that appeared in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) online magazine. SHRM is the largest Human Resources organization in the world with 285,000 members in 165 countries.


Tips from the Article

1. Be proactive. Anticipate and plan for crises that your organization could encounter before they happen.
2. Get a team together. During the planning phase, identify employees who will make up the crisis management team—the people who will know what to do when disaster strikes.
3. Don’t expect employees to come to you. Implement a notification system that quickly reaches out to employees with accurate information and guidance.
4. Don’t put up roadblocks. Trying to keep employees from communicating about crises via social media is futile. Instead, help them shape their messages by giving them correct information in a timely manner.
5. Act fast—but only say what you know to be true. Speed is of the essence when it comes to crisis communications, but it shouldn’t come at the price of accuracy.
6. Don’t go silent. If your organization is not yet ready to respond to an emergency, HR should at least let staffers know that the organization is gathering information and will follow up as soon as it can.
7. Test—then test again. The most well-crafted communication plan won’t be very helpful if employees have no idea what it is or how to use it. At least once a year, test the process to find out from workers what it does and doesn’t do well, and then adjust accordingly.
8. Evaluate. Post-crisis assessments are as important as pre-crisis plans. After the fact, review how the internal communication plan was executed. Determine what succeeded and what can be improved.


Crisis Communication Toolkit

Crisis Communication for Internal Audiences (Icology podcast)

Why Employee Communication is Key in a Crisis (StaffConnect blog)

Top 5 Crisis Communication Mistakes (IABC Communication World Magazine)


Paul Barton Communications Crisis Communication Toolkit

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