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Rapidly changing pandemic requires extra care in employee communication

18-Mar-2020 6:00 AM EDT, by Virginia Tech

When it comes to communicating with employees about topics like coronavirus, staying on top of a rapidly changing situation is most critical, according to Virginia Tech’s Nneka Logan. Logan is an associate professor in the department of communication, specializing in public relations, organizational communication, and corporate social responsibility. 

“Because this situation is so fluid, you need to be sure that the information you communicate is accurate, said Logan.  “What was true yesterday may not be true today.”

Logan points to four keys for effective employee communication. 

“Staying current on CDC guidelines and information from local, state and federal government officials is a must. The same goes for any industry guidelines. You want your communications to be aligned with what others in your field are saying and doing.”

“Second, you want to remind employees that this particular situation is unprecedented so everyone is learning how to respond, even experts.”

“Third, you want to reassure employees that your organization has a plan on how to handle this crisis and that you will keep them informed as things evolve.”

“Fourth, you want to share specifics about what your organization is doing to manage the crisis – especially what you’re doing to help employees and their families. Finally, you want to remind employees that this situation will pass. This is the time for strong leadership and calm, cool, collected and clear communication with employees.”

Additionally, Logan says it is equally important to listen to employees so that your messaging responds to their concerns and meets their needs. “If you don’t listen, you can’t do that. Bottom up communication cannot be overlooked.”

About Nneka Logan

Professor Logan has worked in a variety of communication roles for a multibillion-dollar corporate organization and its subsidiaries for more than 9 years, managing internal, external and executive communication strategies, tactics, programs and projects.  Read her bio.

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