By Tara Gibson - July 29, 2020
State and local governments have been under a lot of pressure throughout today’s current crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. As cases surge across the country, the public are relying on continuous and consistent updates from state and local leaders for accurate information regarding the coronavirus. Although clearly communicating with residents is extremely important, it’s also key to communicate efficiently internally with government employees as well.
As this chaotic public health emergency impacts communities drastically across the United States, it’s crucial that governments are fully prepared to keep their employees calm, safe, informed, and healthy. It’s vital for state and local governments have an internal communication plan as a part of their crisis management planning, whether it’s for COVID-19, a natural disaster, or other workplace safety threat. We took some tips from the Local Government Association below:
Immediate response during a crisis situation is extremely important. Often there will be confusion, misinformation, or an absence of information, which can prompt employees to panic. Government leaders must communicate with their employees first and answer any questions they may have.
By using a mass notification solution, emergency managers can share pertinent facts with internal teams, and outline what is known, what’s being investigated, and when you expect you can update workers further.
Although communities rely on state and local governments to send out timely information in times of a crisis, informing internal staff first should be the priority. It’s extremely likely that you’ll need support and involvement from your employees to help streamline operations, prepare, and respond to an emergency.
Whether a severe weather event, or global pandemic, government leaders must quickly respond and communicate safety procedures and other important information to internal staff first. Your employees could lose trust in your government organization if they see updates on social media and through other media outlets before hearing from you.
During an emergency, safety procedures that may be have been outlined and practiced frequently could be forgotten. Be sure to include tips and policies within your messaging and internal communications for a gentle reminder on what to do. Government leaders may also want to remind workers what to comment on and not comment on when it comes to media and social media posts.
It’s important to make sure you’re reaching all of your employees in different departments and buildings at the same time. Although some messaging may be slightly different, coordinating communication to ensure everybody is up to date is key. Within your mass notification solution, it’s likely possible to create ready-to-go templates and comprehensive lists of who to send to, which, during an emergency situation, can cut precious time and allow leaders to move to work on other tasks they may need to complete.
Communication after a crisis is as important as communication during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has caused many people extreme levels of stress leading to mental health struggles. Employees are likely feeling a variety of emotions stemming from work, home, family, and friend stressors.
Government leaders are encouraged to provide workers with the proper resources, such as mental health tips, and even send out wellness checks to check-in on employees. Government leaders should also personalize their messaging by thanking workers for their critical roles which will offer a reassuring presence to your teams. This can also instill trust and confidence in your organization, as employees will feel valued, understood, and needed.
The term ‘new normal’ has been used a lot amid today’s COVID-19 public health emergency. As we all continue to work through the pandemic, it’s helpful to look back and reflect on changes and crucial decisions that have been made to address the quick spread of coronavirus. Maybe there are things that could have been done differently. Maybe there are incredible wins that should be noted for the future. These messages should be clearly outlined and communicated internally to government staff.
It may also be good to allow your employees to share their own feedback about how leaders handled the crisis event and how effective your communication was throughout the crisis. This input could be extremely helpful in avoiding problems in the future.
Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!
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