Engaging with colleagues in a crisis

23 April 2020

How can good internal communications keep employees well, engaged and motivated during the COVID-19 crisis?


The right information at the right time in the right way.

Employees are looking primarily to their employers for information and reassurance during a time of crisis. In fact, recent research suggests that employers are seen as the most credible source of COVID-19 information, compared with the Government or healthcare industry.

This is not the time for corporate speak – your staff need simple, concise, timely, clear and transparent communications. They want to know the answer to these three questions:

  • How does it impact me?
  • Why should I care?
  • What do you want me to do?

Right now, anything else is just white noise. So be brief, be bright and be gone.

Leaders must communicate more often than feels comfortable.

Leaders and managers need to make communication a top priority. Regular check ins, company updates and Q&A sessions are a must.

Provide your staff with opportunities to give feedback and listen, listen, listen. Listening isn’t just about using your ears. We can observe non-verbal cues such as body language, tone of voice and personal appearance. Nudge each other to check you’re ok.

You don’t have to have all the answers – no one does at the moment – and nor should you pretend to. Leaders and managers, who often want to look like the smartest person in the room, are working with limited information.

This is a great opportunity for Leaders to show empathy, vulnerability and authenticity. After all we’re all in the same boat.

And get comfortable with the medium of video conferencing because it’s here to stay.

Remember your vision, purpose and values.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many of us to re-evaluate our personal values and the same applies to organisations. Undoubtedly the transition to home-working has been a shock to the system.  One client talked about the “mental whiplash” of this rapid change.

We have an opportunity to test and prove our values like never before.

So if one of your values is “One Team”, or “Wellbeing” take the opportunity to role model what this looks like in practise, and reward and recognise others who do too.

Set working or contact hours and allow colleagues to manage their own time.  For example, set aside time for calls only at certain times, so the day doesn’t become awash with conference calls. One-to-one chats either with line managers, mentors or wellbeing champions are just as important.

Use storytelling to share your highs, lows and how you are staying motivated and productive.

106 Communications is an award-winning communications consultancy on a mission to making work better. We create communications to engage and inspire through our three expert-led practises in Internal Communications, Change Communications and Branding & Marketing. For communications advice contact Henry Davies at

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