Framework for employee communication in times of crisis

Key message protocol for employee communication – collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)

When to communicate

In real time. The speed of getting your message to your employees is very important. Do not leave it to social media to give your employees information about the impact of the recent crisis on your company. They need to hear from you directly.

How to communicate

This is not the time to simply send an email or post in an all employee/group channel. Have an initial live (face to face or zoom) discussion.

Who should communicate

Your most senior leader(s).

What do you want people to know

Focus on what you know. State only the facts of what you know and what you can provide answers for. Avoid speculations. Avoid making promises and giving guaranteed assurances. The purpose of this is to show employees that you have a plan and are “controlling the controllables”.

Advise employees to interpret the news with judgement

There’s a lot of incomplete and fake news in the metaverse, encourage employees to critically read and listen to all the news coming at them.

How do you want your employees to feel

How Does it impact them? Is there a call to action? Keep in mind that they will be anxious, nervous, and concerned about their individual wellbeing. Communicate directly and confidently so that they know you are on top of the situation as best you can.

What do you want them to do because of this communication

Decide if this is a message to give information and/or raise awareness. If there is a call to action, please be clear on that.

Avoid creating panic

Avoid over communicating complex information or speculating to the point that it panics the listeners. Be aware of your demeanor as employees are observing you and feeding off your energy.

Show understanding and compassion

Give employees the time and space to digest the information and always give them an opportunity and an avenue to go to for any further questions. Keep in mind major impacts of past 3 years i.e., pandemic, social tensions, layoffs, inflation, labour market pressures etc. If necessary, direct employees to EAP if they need to have private and personal discussions with someone.

Frequency of communication

Things are changing rapidly. Only communicate what you know, but as you know more communicate again.

Create an FAQ and post

Post on your Teams/Slack channels AFTER a live communication session. The news has a lot of stories with every reporting on this topic right now. Stories will raise new questions. Keep your FAQs updated in real time. Continue to stick to the facts.

Sample questions for FAQs

  • Is the company in trouble or going under?
  • Will I be laid off?
  • Will I have to worry about getting paid?
  • Will I still have benefits?

Team Huddle Template

Use this template when you are verbally communicating to an individual or group to help you prepare and stay on track when you deliver the message.

Access the template