Insights

COVID-19 forces companies to take a right turn

Posted by
Jennifer Atkinson
Insights

COVID-19 forces companies to take a right turn

Écrit par
Jennifer Atkinson

Even before COVID-19 hit, the world was watching the way companies behaved during challenging times. Stories about abuse and mistreatment in the era of the #metoo movement and the rise in employee activism, with walkouts happening at technology titans like Google and Facebook, had CEOs up at night worried about brand and reputation.

However, the pandemic is about to change things in an even bigger way, and the public will judge companies by how they show up to support their employees during these unprecedented times.

Playing the reputation long game

We are living in a time when people are going to remember the companies that showed real leadership and made the tough choice to do the right thing. Because when this is all over, and one day it will be over, companies will once again need to attract and retain top talent. Reputation will be more critical than ever.

So how does an organization manage its business while protecting its reputation during COVID-19?

  1. Show courage and compassion. Employees understand the business pressure. Be open and upfront about the challenges the business faces, and don’t be afraid to show your humanity. Be honest about how you are feeling and be willing to be vulnerable.
  2. Be truthful and transparent. Now isn’t the time to try to ease your way into bad news. Your employees will see right through it. They will appreciate hearing the truth even if it’s hard to absorb.
  3. Communicate early and often. Even if you don’t have a lot of news to share, take the time to connect with your team regardless. Your team will worry more when they don’t hear from you. Now is the time to over-communicate to help ease worry and anxiety.
  4. Show you care. First, organizations need to show they understand what employees are experiencing. Parents juggling work and kids, couples living on top of one another, employees coping with separation anxiety for the first time, all lead to extreme levels of stress, and your team will appreciate you recognizing it.

By no means will this be easy. Ultimately, companies must protect the health of both their employees and their organization to get through this. It’s a delicate balance, but when the world does return to normal, consumers and future talent will remember and reward the companies that made the right, yet difficult decisions.

If your organization needs support or advice in these uncertain times, here’s where you can find the latest news, insights and resources related to COVID-19.

Even before COVID-19 hit, the world was watching the way companies behaved during challenging times. Stories about abuse and mistreatment in the era of the #metoo movement and the rise in employee activism, with walkouts happening at technology titans like Google and Facebook, had CEOs up at night worried about brand and reputation.

However, the pandemic is about to change things in an even bigger way, and the public will judge companies by how they show up to support their employees during these unprecedented times.

Playing the reputation long game

We are living in a time when people are going to remember the companies that showed real leadership and made the tough choice to do the right thing. Because when this is all over, and one day it will be over, companies will once again need to attract and retain top talent. Reputation will be more critical than ever.

So how does an organization manage its business while protecting its reputation during COVID-19?

  1. Show courage and compassion. Employees understand the business pressure. Be open and upfront about the challenges the business faces, and don’t be afraid to show your humanity. Be honest about how you are feeling and be willing to be vulnerable.
  2. Be truthful and transparent. Now isn’t the time to try to ease your way into bad news. Your employees will see right through it. They will appreciate hearing the truth even if it’s hard to absorb.
  3. Communicate early and often. Even if you don’t have a lot of news to share, take the time to connect with your team regardless. Your team will worry more when they don’t hear from you. Now is the time to over-communicate to help ease worry and anxiety.
  4. Show you care. First, organizations need to show they understand what employees are experiencing. Parents juggling work and kids, couples living on top of one another, employees coping with separation anxiety for the first time, all lead to extreme levels of stress, and your team will appreciate you recognizing it.

By no means will this be easy. Ultimately, companies must protect the health of both their employees and their organization to get through this. It’s a delicate balance, but when the world does return to normal, consumers and future talent will remember and reward the companies that made the right, yet difficult decisions.

If your organization needs support or advice in these uncertain times, here’s where you can find the latest news, insights and resources related to COVID-19.

Jennifer Atkinson
Partner and Senior Vice President
Jennifer leads the reputation practice at FHR. With extensive experience in strategic communications, executive visibility and media relations, Jennifer works with some of the country’s most high-profile brands, building authentic and engaging communication platforms that are smart, bold, thoughtful and insight-fueled.
Jennifer Atkinson
Vice-présidente principale et associée
Jennifer dirige la pratique de gestion de la réputation d’entreprise chez FHR. Avec sa vaste expérience en communications stratégiques, en visibilité des cadres et en relations avec les médias, Jennifer travaille de concert avec certaines des marques les plus en vue du pays, pour développer des plateformes de communication authentiques et captivantes qui respirent l’intelligence, l’audace, la réflexion et la pertinence.