Communicate with clarity in times of uncertainty

Employees grow nervous when change looms. Here’s how to keep them calm even when you don’t have all the answers.

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If you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all—but what about when employees have questions and you don’t have all the answers? Is that also a time to say nothing? The short answer is no.

Human resources departments face the challenge of communicating uncertainty to employees every day. A leadership change, an upcoming merger or a tweak to health benefits all generate questions from employees, but often not a lot of timely, substantive answers.

With limited answers, or partial responses that may not be ready for public consumption, should human resources departments simply say nothing at all?

It may seem easier, more practical, or safer to remain silent until everything is ready to be presented, but not communicating in times of uncertainty can lead to fear, mistrust and low morale in your workforce. In the absence of official communication, employees talk. Rumors start and workers become disengaged.

How can human resources and internal communications teams prevent this discord before it starts? An effective communication and engagement strategy is a good place to start:

1. Overcommunicate, even if just to say you don’t have any information.

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