Employees trust company communication more than anyone or anywhere else, and the work you do matters more than ever now.
With COVID-19, you are having an immeasurable impact on the health and safety of your organization and your coworkers. And research proves it. This week, Edelman shared brand new research on who people trust related to COVID-19 and where they get their information from.
At the bottom of the article, you can listen a conversation I had with Tamara Rodman, Edelman’s SVP for Employee Experience on the Culture, Comms & Cocktails podcast about their eight key findings. But in this article, I want to focus on the five that internal communicators directly impact.
- (And most important) The most credible source is employer communications
This is what we’ve been waiting for – not the coronavirus – but we now know that employees view the information we are sharing is the most credible. Credibility may not be sexy but it’s vital in crisis communication. Some of you I’ve been working with over the past few weeks and I’ve heard the stories. This is now your priority and the organization’s priority. Keep up the amazing work.
- The Most Relied-on Source of Information Is Mainstream News Organizations
And this is okay. The message for IC is that you must mix in external news sources to back up your own communication. If you’re citing specific events or data, link to them so that employees know it’s reliable. And, before sending out any information, please verify it as truthful. Or else that credibility will disappear.
- The most trusted spokespeople
It’s not your CEO. They’re in the middle of the pack when it comes to trusted spokespeople around COVID-19. Employees want to hear from scientists and the medical community. They are the experts. Most of you don’t have a physician or scientist on staff. But from what I’ve experienced, they are happy to speak with and to an organization about this health crisis.
- The need for frequency
I hear it at every conference. “People need to hear a message 5-7-8-9 times before they acknowledge it.” Not true with this crisis. All they need is to hear 1-2 times for employees to believe it. That’s not to say you only need to share a message 1-2 times. Redundancy isn’t a bad thing. People are believers of the information you’re sharing.
- Employers must share information
When I speak at events, I talk about the ostrich effect. It’s a cognitive bias where we tend to be more quiet during times of bad news. This is a bias people are overcoming and employees need them to. And it’s not just the benign “wash your hands” messages. They want to know how COVID-19 is impacting the business, have coworkers tested positive for the virus and what is the company doing to protect the internal community and the local community.
The work you do matters more than ever. I want you to know that.