Annex D: Tips for communicating with Staff
Many members are uncomfortable with major changes that affect the way they work, and have already been dealing with potential stressful situations as a result of COVID-19. Anxiety increases significantly when change takes place and staff are likely feeling varying levels of stress. Here are tips to help you talk to your staff about the changes.
- Reactions will vary. Staff will either be optimistic and positive about the changes, pessimistic and skeptical, or somewhere in between. Be prepared to address and deal with varying reactions and allow staff to work through the situation at their own pace and in their own way. Your job is to provide the facts, respond to questions and provide information openly and honestly. Consider the particular circumstances and diverse perspectives of each individual.
- Be thorough in your communication. Tell your staff why change/moving ahead is necessary and what the expected outcome will be. If you don’t know the answer to a question, commit to finding out and getting back to your staff in a timely way.
- Be honest about the scope of change. Don’t try to cover up what may be perceived as bad news. Identify the obstacles your team will face and reassure them that you will help overcome them. Listen to your staff and each individual’s circumstance.
- Announce the change in a timely way, and communicate often. Don’t wait until staff hear the news through the grapevine. Keep your staff updated and engaged. If there are significant impacts in your group, you may want to have daily or weekly meetings. Even if there is no new information, let staff know that there is nothing to report. This will reassure them that you haven’t forgotten to update them.
- Be available for “digital” face-to-face sessions to answer questions and address concerns. Listen carefully to staff concerns and discuss ways to resolve them. Some staff will simply need to vent or air their frustrations, especially related to health and safety concerns. Give them opportunities to express themselves in constructive and respectful ways.
- Communicate what’s staying the same. This is just as important as telling staff what is changing. Letting them know what isn’t changing will help settle nervous staff and provide a sense of stability. Also let them know what support is out there for them to tap into. There are many resources that staff can leverage.
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