Building Trust by Overcommunicating through a Global Pandemic

Radhika Chandrashekar

Radhika Chandrashekar

December 14, 2020

An important lockdown takeaway: there’s no such thing as overcommunication. With the pandemic throwing the entire world into uncertainty, managing the apprehensions of anxiety-ridden employees has been a real feat for Communications teams worldwide. The clamor for assurances and updates meant only one thing – overcommunication is the way forward. Giving people relevant information even before they can ask became the key to alleviating their fears and minimizing confusion and frustration. Constant, consistent, and clear communication has played a vital role in ensuring that Company leaders were not just heard, but understood.

Considering the scale of impact of COVID-19 on our lives, we couldn’t have gone tone-deaf by pretending it was business as usual. For Companies everywhere, the first goal of communication was to assuage fears of an unknown virus, comfort people, and establish trust. Many organizations erred on the side of caution to keep their employees from feeling overwhelmed by information. Ironically, the ones that risked sounding repetitive were the ones that successfully

  • set expectations,
  • ensured transparency,
  • and maintained calm.

Boost Morale with Greater Transparency and Accountability

Lack of transparency during a crisis can prove to be detrimental of any company, irrespective of size or scale. Employees wield significant power as brand advocates, so the lack of transparency and speculation about Health & Safety, the two most significant contributors to a happier state of being, can be highly damaging. This is especially true during a global crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, when customers are watching how companies treat their employees, and employees are experiencing how they are being treated by their bosses.

Most organizations figured out very quickly that the best way to assure employees, clients, vendors, and partners was to be completely honest, let them in on their business continuity strategy, and be fully accountable on a daily basis.

One of the strategic ways in which many organizations including RRD tackled the unknown and established trust amongst its employees was by setting up bi-directional information sharing. Leaders were listening to their managers and employing channels of communication that would allow them to answer questions of employees from every level. A liberal and fair use of traditional and digital tools like phones, SMS, email, instant messaging, video calls were pulled together to close communication gaps, enhance collaboration, reduce isolation, build trust, and ensure business continuity among geographically dispersed teams.

Keep it Simple, Concise

“Once we made sure that our people were safe, we turned our attention to prioritizing tasks and minimizing disruption to business. To communicate this effectively, we knew we had to keep the company messages short, simple, and memorable,” noted Arpita Bhawal, Director-Communication, RRD GO Creative™. ”In addition to the frequent and mandatory messages on safety and wellbeing, and an intense safety campaign, we sent out tailored messages to different stakeholders so they were constantly aware of how they’d be impacted by our altered processes. We wanted our people to connect with us in a way that they would normally within an office environment, so we ensured that our communication-driven engagement campaigns were highly creative, and they required employee participation. All our communication campaigns were runaway successes because they provided ample motivation and deep emotional connect to employees, something that was absolutely non-negotiable in these uncertain times.”

Being a communications solutions expert, RRD GO Creative™ understood the value of employing a mix of media for maximum reach and engagement. The company made a conscious decision to communicate its vision over and over again, especially in the early stages of the lockdown. Its empathetic, direct, and frequent communication ensured a more clued-in, productive staff, which, in turn, ensured greater ease of doing business in a highly altered environment.