Pic: InspiredImages/Pixabay

Would you be happy to send your child back to school today?

Or go back to your office, or meet clients at theirs?

No, I didn’t think so.

To enable Britain to get back to work, when local law allows it, companies, organisations and governments around the UK need to build enough trust in the post-Lockdown safety systems being put in place.

First, governments need to work out in detail, using consultation with relevant expert groups and stakeholders, robust measures to protect people in workplaces and passengers and staff on public transport..

Communicate

They then need to communicate the planned measures simply and effectively, listen to and feed back on people’s thoughts on them, make reasonable changes and only then implement them. Publishing them too quickly without enough consultation of all relevant stakeholders has led to reputational damage for the UK Government.

Companies and organisations also need to work out, consult on and implement workplace physical protection and systems to ensure staff have the confidence to return to workplaces. Would you risk your life and those of your family by going back to work before you were confident of the ‘Covid-secure’ measures in place? Only those more desperate for the money would.

The Edelman Trust Barometer Spring 2020 Update shows UK companies have a mountain to climb on this.

Only 35% of employees think measures to protect those unable to work at home are sufficient. Fewer have confidence that planning to make a safe return to work is adequate.

Good news

The good news is this can be done quickly and effectively.

Supermarkets faced the same challenge at the start of the epidemic – convincing customers it was safe to shop in-store once protective measures had been put in place – and have met it. Tesco is a good example with the adverts they ran to communicate the confidence-building changes they’d implemented.

The keys to this are:

  • Devise robust safety measures and policies in consultation with all internal audiences and your health & safety and HR advisor
  • Implement the measures
  • Show, don’t tell – use video and/or photos to show the changes and talk about the process changes to enable biosecurity. Text-only leaves room for the imagination and fears to dent confidence. Pictures, especially video, should convince, if you have done enough.
  • Have your organisation’s leader talk through the changes in video – using a simple, tightly-written script talking to staff as individuals using plain everyday language
  • Ask for questions and reply to everyone with the answers
  • Have managers deal with individual issues
  • Have a system for fixing any unanticipated issues rapidly and communicate them to everyone
  • Thank staff for their support

Schools

Schools need to go through the same process to devise and implement sufficient changes to convince parents it’s safe for their children to return and, in many cases, free them to return to work.

Don’t forget to use your outbound comms channels to communicate your internal changes too – earlier Edelman research found 90% of the public want to understand how organizations are supporting employees, customers and suppliers. This will enhance your company or organisation’s reputation. There’s also a growth opportunity by doing so – more than a third of people have started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way the brand has behaved since the pandemic began.

Doing this effectively and at a pace set by the confidence of your people will not only get you back to work but should also build internal perception of your leader and management (only 46% trust their leader currently, and just 20% feel CEOs are rising to the challenge of the crisis). For other things you can do to build trust, go to this earlier blog and this one.