CEOs around the world have had to up their game to communicate to employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Below we grade some of the best and some #epicfails at the University of Employee Communications.
(Note: we have not mentioned any of our clients in this list).
B+: Maple Reinders Group
Points for communicating directly with employees (versus through social media), but demerits for only doing your crisis comms planning starting March 11.
C: Whole Foods/Amazon
They told their employees they wanted to support them with sick days. They then told them to donate their sick days instead of the company providing them. Although their HR approach was very tech-centric, which was on brand, but it didn't work: the automatic system tried to fire people who claimed their sick leave.
The CEO demonstrated empathy and also focused on his own experiences of worry and fear. Clear behavioural guidance on what the company is doing. Knows data will inform decisions but reflects that ultimately decisions must be human decisions.
Layoffs happen during COVID-19 but delivery of that message matters. The 3,374-word letter was issued from the CEO to employees with a detailed description of why the layoffs occurred, the specifics were decided plans going future and all done with an empathetic tone. We like the letter format (versus Zoom call – talking to you Uber) because staff can absorb the information on their own timeline and the details help show the effort that went into the decision. Would have gotten an A+ like Starbucks but the message was one of layoffs.