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How businesses can support employees and the community

By Bryony Clear Hill, Associate Manager, Ethics Awareness

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of people worldwide. The independent, global communications firm Edelman produced the special report Trust and the Coronavirus revealing data on 10,000 people in nine countries and the U.K. The online survey sought to understand people’s level of trust in the information they receive regarding the coronavirus.  

The report reveals that individuals view their employer as a source of reliable information and think their employers are more prepared than their country in responding to a viral outbreak. Findings from the survey include 

  • Staff members expect their employer to ensure that they are protected in the workplace to reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus and spreading it throughout the community. 

  • People say that they think employers should adapt business operations and HR policies in light of COVID-19.  

  • Employees want frequent communication founded in science.  

  • The majority of respondents think their government is more effective when partnering with businesses. 

COVID-19 is changing the world, and people expect businesses to play a key role in minimising the devasting impact of this disease. Here are three tips to boost your company’s support to employees and the community during the pandemic. 

Informed communication 

Employees expect honest, transparent and frequent communication from their employers. People trust the information they receive from their employer more than other outlets: 63% trust information from their employer; 51% trust traditional media; 28% trust social media. Sixty-three percent of the people surveyed expect communications on COVID-19 from their employer at least once a day.  

Large organisations probably have an internal communications team or a crisis response team; for smaller organisations, communication amid a crisis will fall to leaders. Employees need to know steps they can take to avoid contracting and spreading the virus; if there are confirmed coronavirus cases at the workplace; and what the organisation is doing to slow the spread of the virus.  

Business-government collaboration  

Everyone expects governments to  act, but only 1 in 5 people say they think that governments alone can address this crisis. Twice as many people said that business-government collaboration is a better option.  

When considering ways to contribute to the huge task of tackling COVID-19, companies should offer resources, services and/or areas of expertise to address the needs of society. Perhaps manufacturers can repurpose operations and begin producing personal protective equipment or distilling spirits to making hand sanitiserFor other companies such as supermarkets, maintaining operations is paramount 

Some organisations may have resources to donate, or employees who are experts in varying sectors. Those staff members can collaborate with government officials to develop policies, articulate procedures and strategise about how and when to lift lockdown restrictions and reopen businesses. 

Community engagement 

sense of community has increasingly become important because of self-isolation and government-imposed lockdown measuresPeople need businesses to care about communities  more than three-quarters of those Edelman surveyed said they expected businesses to protect employees and the local community.  

Along with communication and collaboration, business can support their communities by offering home delivery of products; providing special discounts to essential workers; donating to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other nonprofits working on the frontlines;  and allowing employees to take additional time away from work for volunteering. 

This global pandemic is changing the world, and we are here to help you and your business during this challenging time. The COVID-19 Resource Center offers information on business continuity planning, professional development amid confinement, maintaining mental health and more.