Clear, Comprehensive Communication for a Safe Transition
As Canadians, specifically Ontarians, we are finally approaching the much sought-after return to work phase. For some, this is music to the ears. For others, there looms a cloud of uncertainty and concerns.
This is where organizations play a major role in not only establishing their return-to-work policies but communicating those policies in a way that is thoughtful, practical, and leaves no room for interpretation.
Don’t have a return-to-work policy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:
- Tips for Creating a Return-to-Work Strategy
- Why your company needs a remote work policy (& How to Build One!)
Arguably one of the most important factors that go into a new corporate policy is the communication of that policy to the appropriate individuals within an organization. It takes a lot more than an email or video call invite to deliver such an important message, especially one that will certainly affect the lives of all employees.
Read on for the top seven tips to effectively communicating a return-to-work policy that will empower organizations and instill trust and confidence among employees.
Unloading too much information in too much detail with legal or HR jargon is overwhelming and confusing. With tensions high, miscommunication and ambiguity can certainly cause issues and should be avoided at all costs.
Provide guidelines, policies, signs, expectations, and other clear communications in a digestible and effective manner.
Tip: Use infographics, short videos, summaries of larger documents, etc., all with an emphasis on important or significant changes in your organization’s policies.
No, we don’t mean branding your policies (though that’s definitely advised) – we mean associating your policy with a group or individual within your organization.
When employers share significant changes in or new policies, it’s important to have a face backing that update so employees feel both reassured and like they have a place to direct questions, concerns, and feedback. Personalizing your policies will also minimize confusion while maximizing trust.
Don’t forget to have your managers connect on a more localized level to different teams – that’s what they’re there for!
There are sure to be discrepancies over policy changes, as it’s a normal part of the experience—particularly when you look back on a year of such huge change, adaptation, and sacrifice. The most important thing to take away from the process is to be authentic and honest while empathizing with your employees across all levels.
Establish a tone of empathy, understanding, and concern in your materials while acknowledging feelings. Accepting feedback, taking concerns, and answering questions in a calm, empathetic manner creates mutual reliability, confidence, and trust. By normalizing emotions and being sensitive to varying needs, your organization creates a safe space for employees to share their thoughts without stigma or threat of retaliation.
Revisit your organization’s values and reiterate the importance of employee safety and protection and what the business is doing to follow these guidelines. Be sure to draw back all points to the main topic of health and well-being, not work.
Reiterate & Update
How many meetings have we sat through where there was important information delivered, only to realize halfway through we weren’t fully paying attention? Anyone? Just us, okay.
It’s not enough to have a meeting where you name off the highlights of your policy and protocols. To ensure the message sticks and your employees are confident in your return-to-work policy (or if they’re not, they have the opportunity to share concerns and questions), be sure to reiterate your statements. Whether that’s with one-on-one meetings, department or group meetings, emails, sharing links to your cloud drive – whatever it may be, make sure your team has all the resources they need regarding the new policy.
If your policy changes due to employee feedback or other reasons, these updates also need to be readily available for employees to refer back to. This displays thoughtful planning, shows your organization is on the ball, deters rumours, and reassures your staff, even if nothing significant has changed.
Tip: Be clear and concise about your message and back up your information with reliable sources.
Customize & Tailor
Not everyone needs to hear the entirety of the information regarding your organization’s return to work policy (but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be available to them to refer to). While this may sound like it goes against an organization’s value of transparency, on the contrary, it’s about efficiency.
Not all information is needed by everyone, or in the same way. Use various communication channels for specific groups and get the buy-in of your management team to assist.
This not only streamlines your delivery of these policies, but it reduces clutter and ambiguity on how the new plan affects each individual.
What use is the policy to employees if they can’t find it or don’t know who to speak to about it?
In your communications to employees, take the time to provide clear channels of information, including who will be answering questions, where they should expect direction from, and where the policy documents and other materials can be found.
Having these channels established will allow for maximum flexibility and efficiency as valuable information is passed along. It will also enable your organization to quickly adapt to the voiced needs of your team, making your efforts even more effective.
We’ve all been couped up at home, making do with our make-shift remote workstations, noisy children, cabin fever, health concerns, and other significant stressors. It’s time to celebrate your organization’s achievements (as big or small as they may be), reinforce the values it stands for, and how they were demonstrated in the company’s pandemic response.
It’s been one heck of a year, so be proud to have gone through this experience with your team and rejoice in the fact that you have established a return-to-work plan for your organization. This is certainly a milestone moment for the books.
Horizant’s Return-to-Work Resources:
- Planning for the Return to Work in the Post-COVID Environment
- How Companies Are Trying to Attract Employees Back to the Office
- Meeting Space Solutions for the Hybrid Workplace
- 5 Things We’ve Learned That Will Help Prepare for Return to Work
- The Future of Work, Post-Pandemic
- Stressed About Returning to Work?
- The Fundamentals – Return-to-Work Plan
- Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Your rights and responsibilities as an employee
- Health and safety at worksites
As we approach the return-to-work transition, there is a lot to consider while ensuring the move back is smooth and painless for your employees and your organization. Remember, flexibility, empathy, and open-mindedness go a long way when communicating significant changes to your team.