3 Employee Communication Tricks to Get Your Employees Through a Crisis


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Hurricane Irma has shaken the lives of employees everywhere.

From those who weathered out the storm to evacuees, and even family members of those directly afflicted, the lasting effects are devastating.

But imagine your shock if you received this notice from your employer: “If you miss work due to evacuation, you’ll be terminated.” Unfortunately, according to a recent Ladders’ article, Florida-based employment lawyers say this is a reality some Floridians may be facing.

Even though the law isn’t protecting employees from being fired due to these extenuating circumstances, HR pros and employers should be prepared and ready to help their teams however they can. No matter how big or small, employees need to feel they can trust their HR team to help them through any crisis situation.

The first place to start doing this is with strong employee communication efforts. To get you started, I put together a list of three employee communication tactics to get your team through any crisis:

1. Take time to understand the situation.

Many employees’ crises won’t be as large or obvious to HR pros as the latest hurricanes. That’s why employee communication is a crucial factor in crisis resolution.

Unfortunately, communication with company leaders may not be as frequent as your team would like. In fact, OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement report found 31 percent of employees wish their managers communicated more frequently with them.

When you notice a sudden change in employee behavior or performance, remember to take a step back and assess the situation. Opening up the lines of employee communication helps you understand what a team member is going through and will help you make an informed decision on how to help them.

Don’t forget to be cautious when entering into these conversations.

A team member dealing with a difficult situation is already emotionally on edge and likely aware of their declining performance. Start by letting them know you’re not there to judge, or worse, fire them, but instead, want to fully understand what they’re dealing with so you can get them back on the right track.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Employee communication 101 teaches HR pros not to over-promise anything. This sounds simple enough — until someone on your team is struggling with a personal crisis. After digging in and truly understanding what an employee is going through, it’s easy to be overcome with emotion.

In HR, that emotion is often met with a deep desire to fix anything and everything you can. However, you and the company can only offer so much. Making major promises that the company can’t financially follow through on will create more of an issue for both you and your team.

So, when an employee approaches you with an issue and you’re unsure of the immediate solution, take a moment to check with your team and company leaders. Let the employee know you empathize with their situation and will offer help in any way you realistically can. You’ll be playing it safe by not making promises you can’t keep and they’ll appreciate you taking the time to invest in their needs.

3. Be proactive.

Don’t sit around waiting for an employee crisis to arise to understand how you can help. Employee communication surrounding any and all issues should be continuous and frequent. This will let your team know you’re thinking of them as more than a working part of the company machine, and that HR cares about them as human beings.

Start organizing a library of resources that are immediately available to employees. If and when a crisis happens, your team will know exactly how their company can help and where they can go to find solutions.

Heighten accessibility by putting these resources together on an online employee portal. This will assist employees who need help but aren’t ready to open up to management or HR about their situations.

Above all, the key to getting your team through any crisis is with healthy employee communication. When your team knows they can open up to you about any issue, both personal or career-related, your chances of effectively dealing with the situation will be better than ever.


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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.