Best Practices in Internal Communications for Crisis Management

In times of global crisis, companies often develop contingency plans to avoid serious disruption to operations. You’ve heard a lot recently about Covid-19 in the media, but many different crises can threaten your organization: product failure, natural disaster, gun violence or simply a very bad buzz. In these cases of emergency, it is essential to communicate quickly and effectively to your entire organization.

What is Crisis Communication

How does good internal communication fit into crisis management?

Successful crisis management means following the right steps and moving with caution to avoid any misfires. Ideally, this means having a communication plan ready in case an emergency arises. Start by communicating internally, then following through with external messaging.

This is where an easy-to-use intranet becomes an essential tool for internal communications, in order to inform and reach all employees equally. Good adoption of the intranet is also crucial here to achieve proper impact, so ensure that your employees connect regularly.

By leveraging the intranet through the right channels – instead of relying on more traditional methods such as email – organizations are more likely to communicate accurate information quickly, with updated resources.

Watch tone-of-voice!

In cases of emergencies, a best practice is to make sure all messages remain professional and neutral in tone. Leaders need to inform and reassure the workforce, and avoid feeding a panicking or volatile atmosphere.

Favor Facts over Feelings.

Communication professionals such as Employee Communications and HR teams will be the best-suited to ensure an appropriate tone-of-voice.

Some examples of sensible emergency communication:

(Event) today at 9am. Here are the actions we are putting in place to deal with the situation.  
These processes are valid until (end date).
You can contact (point person) for more information. 
All employees can join (Emergency Community) to voice any concerns and ask questions.
Any public mention must follow this message guideline: “We have taken all necessary precautions at this time to deal with (Event). We are implementing (new processes) until further notice.”

Short-Term: First Internal Comms Touchpoints

Leverage your Intranet

Crisis management demands alignment from all teams, which means emergency communication needs to start with internal communications.

Speed and high visibility are what you’re aiming for above all else, so keep the messaging clear and concise for these first steps in internal outreach.

Have a few key teams or employees – aka a point person – lead the charge on these actions so as to have a clear point of contact for all employees in case of emergency or follow-up questions.

And of course, plan your messages and short-term actions in advance as much as possible.

Here are four ways in which you can leverage an intranet to reach your entire organization rapidly.

4 intranet use cases = 4 levels of communication

Critical alerts

Use pop-in notifications in the same way as tutorials to inform users on critical alerts. These push employees to read any information before they can pursue other activities. They can also be personalized by user profile.

Regular one-time alerts

Create a visible banner on the intranet home page to communicate to the entire organization at a glance. You can combine this general message with specific alerts through intranet notifications and mobile push notifications.

Virtual Town Hall

Host a virtual town hall, where organizers can share information and content in person to the entire workforce, or gather employee feedback to engage geographically dispersed employees and allow a live Q&A.

Detailed articles

Posting a longer article is necessary in order to delve into more detail about the crisis and reassure employees. The post can cover the Why and How of the crisis management plan, including processes and measures the organization has implemented.
internal communication for crisis management

Leverage your Mobile Application

Ensuring that your intranet is responsive and available on mobile devices is of paramount importance for emergency communications. The intranet mobile app is the perfect channel for employees who work remotely or on-the-go to stay updated with fresh information.

Thanks to the mobile app, employees will get critical notifications or instructions, even if they are away from their computer. These can be push notifications from the intranet app, or updates inside the app about newly posted articles and community posts.

Long-Term Solutions for Crisis Management

Managing crises is a time game, however, a bit of foresight helps to be successful. Managers and leaders should also prepare employees for this type of situation to avoid last-minute actions, especially spreading panic and misinformation.

The intranet can help support these strategies, such as providing training for the most likely types of emergencies.

Intranet Spaces for Emergency Communications

Create dedicated spaces inside the intranet where employees know where to find this type of information. It is also crucial to plan for page and article templates for emergency topics in order to save time on internal communications when the situation calls for them.

3 intranet spaces for emergency comms

Here are three ways to leverage the intranet for long-term crisis management:

Dedicated pages

In this page type, employees will find all the context and latest news about the crisis (news articles, press releases), as well as external links towards other relevant content or communities. This page needs to be regularly updated.

Dedicated communities

Create a specific crisis community if employees need to exchange information, collaborate or simply express themselves about their current situation. This space can also be used to share customer feedback during the crisis, or official talking points that employees should use with the public/external contacts. This type of community needs specific and close moderation.

Social Advocacy dashboard

Finally, it’s important to keep the intranet’s social advocacy dashboard updated with the latest official posts and messages about the crisis and especially after successful crisis management. This way employees can share the right information with their external network, such as: “support is still running as usual”, “all defective products have been successfully recalled”, or “crisis has been successfully managed thanks to these preventive measures…” etc.

crisis mobile notifications

If you’re looking to implement these practices inside your digital workplace, check out our page on LumApps’ use cases for Internal Communications and other assets such as our blog How to Facilitate Home Office with a Digital Workplace and our white paper on Mobility in the Workplace.

ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

Author

Maya Riebel
Communication Manager

Published on

March 6, 2020

Tags

Internal Communication, Intranet

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