Clear, caring messages from all levels of leadership is helpful in reducing fear and uncertainty in the workplace in the face of public health concerns. Learn the best ways to effectively communicate about coronavirus in the workplace.

Anxiety about coronavirus (COVID-19) is being increasingly felt in all environments, including workplaces – with many worrying about whether it’s safe for them to go to or remain at work. So, it’s important to manage workers’ anxiety around coronavirus and their potential risks in the workplace. But how do we effectively communicate about coronavirus in the workplace?

Clear, caring messages from all levels of leadership – along with open lines of communication – can go a tremendous way in reducing fear and uncertainty in the workplace in the face of public health concerns.

How to Effectively Communicate about Coronavirus in the Workplace

Here are some tips that can help you effectively communicate about coronavirus in your workplace:

  1. Acknowledge workers’ feelings. People are likely feeling anxious or fearful in regards to their personal safety and their possible exposure in the workplace. It’s important to acknowledge and normalize these feelings. Remember in addition to their role as an employee, many will also have other concerns weighing on them. Particularly about the risk to family members, particularly if they have ageing parents or children. Create a safe space for open and authentic communication.
  2. Be transparent about your workplace strategy to manage coronavirus, and provide updates as planning evolves. Many workplaces have multiple factors that impact their decision-making around coronavirus, with plans evolving even on a daily basis. To the degree possible, share openly the factors that are impacting decisions, and what your organization’s plans are. Assure workers thoughtful planning is underway and as health authorities escalate concerns, this information will be incorporated into planning.
  3. Increase awareness about safety protocols. Inform your workforce of what you’re doing to keep them safe, and what accommodations you’re able to provide. For example, where hand sanitization stations are in the office, how cleaning of regularly touched surfaces is being increased and what the work-from-home policies are. Let workers know where they can find more information if they require it.
  4. Maintain open lines of communication. Invite conversation, and ensure employees know which key designates within your organization they can direct questions toward. Ensure regular and clear communication is occurring. Depending on the level to which your organization and work functions are impacted, this may involve weekly or even daily communication and updates.
  5. Provide resources on managing stress and enhancing psychological resilience to all employees. For many people, particularly those with pre-existing anxiety or other psychological health disorders, the emotional impact of the uncertainty of COVID-19 may become overwhelming or even unbearable. Ensure employees know of available mental health resources – there are many free, evidence-based resources available. If your organization offers benefits, ensure employees know what’s available under psychology and counselling benefits. Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych & Associates offers virtual (online) therapy and resilience coaching via video, ensuring timely accessible therapy and coaching services in a safe manner.

Anxiety and Coronavirus

For more information about managing anxiety surrounding coronavirus in the workplace see our other article How to Reduce Coronavirus Anxiety in the Workplace.

Also, remember to stay informed of the latest coronavirus developments by checking websites for the World Health Organization, Public Health Agency of Canada, and other relevant authorities.

See some of our other resources on coronavirus:

7 Tips to Manage Anxiety about Coronavirus

How to Manage Anxiety about Coronavirus (COVID-19) that Turns into Panic

Talking with children about public health emergencies like coronavirus

Whiteboard Explainer Videos on the Anxiety Surrounding Coronavirus