As our communities finally enter the ‘re-opening stage’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and employers are going to set the precedent for post-pandemic public safety. They will need to be prepared to provide guidance, answer questions, and effectively communicate relevant protocols and restrictions. Although some people are eager for things to get back to normal, many are concerned for their health in the wake of re-opening. Utilizing basic crisis communication tactics, like transparency, empathy and honesty, will help businesses manage communications and expectations.
In North Carolina, Phase 2 of re-opening began at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Restaurants, bars, and other businesses and organizations can now operate again at reduced capacity. For those in the process of re-opening, utilize these suggestions to help your business smoothly transition.
Know Your Local Policies
The reopening of America is going to happen state by state, and in some states, county by county. To combat this layering of information, businesses should remain up-to-date with their local government’s policies and plans. By honoring the restrictions put in place by your local government officials, such as reduced capacity laws and social distancing guidelines, convey to your team and customers that their safety is your number one priority. Communicating these new rules clearly will help establish trust between you, your employees, and your patrons.
Like you, your employees are probably eager to get back to work but may be concerned for their health. Before returning to the workplace, employees should be assured of their health and safety. Compiling a detailed plan that outlines how your business will protect employees can help instill confidence in your staff, as it shows their safety is top priority.
It is critical to recognize other factors that may affect your employees during this time as well, such as childcare availability or financial distress. Businesses should utilize surveys to gain insight into employee concerns so they can better approach re-opening. Remaining flexible and sensitive to these concerns as an employer can position you as their ally, and strengthen workplace morale.
How your business treats employees during this time can make or break consumer confidence. Many employees are currently protesting or suing their business’s over unsafe pandemic work conditions. Now more than ever, consumers will be less likely to trust your business if your employees appear uneasy or displeased with their workplace environment. Your goal should be to strengthen public trust in your business, and this begins internally.
Many people are not yet comfortable with returning to their pre-pandemic routines, so emphasizing public safety will be crucial to generate business during this time. Demonstrating concern for patron health through visible cleaning, displaying relevant CDC guidelines, and remaining transparent about your procedures will instill public confidence in your business.
Misinformation populates social media feeds in today’s environment, and makes it hard to discern between what’s true and what’s not. Businesses need to ensure that they are providing accurate COVID-19 information in order to avoid further crises.
By providing reliable information from trusted sources like the CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, you can help your employees prevent the spread of the virus in their personal lives and in your workplace. Also, take to your business’s social media accounts to show the public how you’re handling the crisis and link back to reliable sources. This will show your employees and customers that you’re taking the proper precautions to keep everyone safe as you work to re-open.
If your business needs help navigating communication efforts during this time, our staff at Sinclair Public Affairs is here to help. Contact Sinclair Public Affairs at [email protected]