COVID-19: What the Hell?

Episode Summary

Elizabeth and Andrew reflect on the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vital and shifting role organizational communicators played.

Starting in early March, many of us discovered we not only didn’t have a playbook for something like this, but we also had a fragmented, frightened workforce that was looking to its leaders for a lot more than virtual yoga and handwashing tips.

While a survey by Edelman found our efforts early on built trust and reassurance, by June those numbers were slipping. Yet communicators kept cranking out information about how to wear masks, how to use video conferencing and fun recipes to keep the kids busy.

But we missed a key shift. Once our workers felt physically safe, they were looking to employers to help them deal with unprecedented anxiety, depression, isolation and stress. Then came the resurgence of racial inequality protests and, in some areas, protests against masks and economic shutdowns. Amid this and dire predictions about a second wave of COVID-19 infections, a coming flu season, wild fires and hurricanes, our employees were looking for reassurance and support, not tips on healthy smoothies.

On top of this, we also see a growing chasm between the salaried workers who are rocking their track pants safe at home and the front line workers who are risking their health and their families’ health by coming into work every day. Long after the current crisis ends, that them-and-us gap will haunt organizations.

Key Topics

  • What communicators did well 1:25
  • The big miss in late May 11:25
  • The growing chasm in our workforce 15:45
  • Summary 18:00
  • What we’re liking 22:35

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