Return to work plans, HR risks to weigh, crisis lessons from Parenthood, and more

Here’s a roundup of the week’s crisis communication news for communicators.

Vector illustration of stick figure stopping the domino effect with falling stick figures

Here are the top 10 tips and takeaways from the week ending May 1 taken from our Crisis Communications Daily newsletter. Be sure to subscribe here to get this daily roundup directly in your inbox.


Here are tips for addressing a return to the office before a viable vaccine is available. Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategy at HOK, shares ways to prioritize safety if you’re trying to restart your business even when the virus still poses a threat to workers. See all of her takeaways here.

Address potential “people risk” in your crisis contingency plan. In a report from Hackett Group, experts warn that personnel issues could exacerbate your crisis, and they advise you take action on expanding remote work, planning for leadership continuity, reviewing PTO policies and more. See their full crisis analysis here.

USAA offers lessons on adapting to the “new normal.” See the full list of takeaways from Lauren Daniels, assistant VP for employee communications, including how to create meeting “buffers,” maintain workplace culture and empower leaders to be effective crisis managers.

Zillow gives employees option to WFH until the end of 2020. As you plan your recovery, make sure you seek input from employees and offer plans with flexibility for workers who are facing a wide range of hurdles during this crisis.

Zillow said in a statement:

“We’ve learned a lot over the past two months and have watched our teams pull together from their homes to keep the company moving forward. This situation has dramatically changed how we envision our future of work and we expect this experience will influence our decisions going forward.”

Parenthood offers insights for crisis communications best practices. Being able to respond creatively in a tight spot is a skill that many parents pick up—and the lessons of parenthood can be easily applied to many crisis situations. Here are some rules to follow, whether you are bandaging boo-boos or easing employee anxiety.

Inclusive language shouldn’t take a back seat in your crisis messages. You might feel like you have bigger fish to fry, but D&I is an essential consideration no matter what struggles your organizations faces. Here are some tips to help you walk the talk.

Depending on where you are in a crisis, employees need different information. In a report from McKinsey, the life cycle of a crisis is charted to show how employees need facts and clear instructions at the beginning of a crisis and a new vision for the future on the backend of the crisis.

Image courtesy of McKinsey.

Broadcom’s plan for staggered shifts not enough for some employees. The computer chip maker has recalled employees despite ongoing shelter-in-place orders and employees say they don’t feel it is taking enough precautions. Asking nonessential workers to come in doesn’t sit well with essential employees already on the job.

NBC reported:

“This introduces a level of uncertainty because you have to leave home when you don’t know what the risks are,” the employee said.

Broadcom is a chipmaker and is deemed an essential business. But the argument from critics is that the company is allegedly putting non-essential employees at risk by forcing them to show up to work.

After the crisis, 55% say they want to return to the office. As companies think through the future of work and how to bring back employees, know that some workers are happy to keep working from their homes. However, a healthy number want to go back to the office. Communicators can take the lead on how to help organizations execute this move safely.

Keep your meetings brief. In a report, employees are spending more time on one-on-one checkins and meetings during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure that your meetings are efficient and carefully planned to avoid unnecessarily adding to your teams’ workload.


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