Given the current state of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to avoid discussing the news with each person you interact with. However, for business owners and their team, it is advisable to avoid talking about controversial topics such as politics, religion and economics in your professional interactions and communications.
As employees interact with the clients, vendors, suppliers and other team members, they should avoid sharing personal views, getting into heated debates about current topics or making aggressive remarks in regards to politics.
Developing guidelines and communicating them to employees - and anyone representing your brand - will be an essential part of protecting your business during this challenging time.
We have created a customizable template that can be personalized to your brand before distributing to your employees. These guidelines can help employees stay professional in their communications and interactions, which will go a long way in protecting your brand.
Determine a point person who can review communications for employees and that can be responsible for protecting the brand and the company's values and mission.
After distributing the guidelines, request that each employee responds to the email, acknowledging that they received it and will abide by the rules and suggestions.
Customize the areas in [PINK] below and distribute to your team:
We are offering employees a few guidelines to help navigate these challenging times as it pertains to professional interactions with vendors, clients and others. This also includes everyday interactions amongst the team.
First and foremost, you do not know the situation, impact or feelings of the person you are interacting with. Be considerate of other peoples’ feelings, beliefs and values by refraining from discussing sensitive topics. Do not ask personal questions, make assumptions and/or make negative remarks about the current situation. You may risk offending someone.
Avoid political discussions
Addressing the current situation may not be avoidable, but we are strongly asking all employees and anyone representing [COMPANY NAME] to please exclude political and personal views in any and all professional communications and conversations, including interactions amongst the team. In addition, we are asking all employees and anyone representing the company to not disclose or discuss the current state of our company operations.
Shift the topic
If political or sensitive topics of discussion are unavoidable, respectfully shift the topic back to a professional on-track conversation.
One way to shift the conversation from a potentially controversial topic is to compliment the other person. Flattery acts a distraction and helps avoid an awkward or heated discussion. Compliment your client, vendor or team member on one of their projects or accomplishments to help shift their mindset.
Another tactic to try to deflect unwanted debates is enlisting the help of someone around you. Pull another colleague or team member into the conversation, while changing the subject. Keep it casual and polite.
As a company, we are sensitive to this ever-changing situation and we are asking our employees to be as well.
Our messaging should be consistent with acknowledging the events and the impact it may have on clients, vendors and anyone you are communicating with as an employee or representative of [COMPANY NAME]. The strong message we want to sensitively communicate to all is: [ADD COMPANY STATEMENT]
Watch What You Say Online
While we cannot control how you engage and interact on your personal profiles, we ask you to remember you are representing [COMPANY NAME] on certain Social Media platforms and in certain interactions where your affiliation to [COMPANY NAME] is identified.
LinkedIn is one example where your accounts are connected to the company profile. Because of this, we are reminding employees that comments, likes and posts are visible to everyone that visits your profile, and can be viewed by past, current and prospective employees, vendors and more.
When you are online, you are representing not only yourself, but the company as well. Protect the brand, and protect yourself.
Be sure to not say anything online that is discriminatory, harassing in nature or insensitive to the events impacting the entire world.
Limit Your Visibility
While LinkedIn is your professional platform, often your personal accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are also visible to professional contacts. If you are posting or commenting about the pandemic, it is recommended to limit your visibility on those personal accounts by adjusting your privacy settings to be viewable only by your contacts and friends. Please avoid friending or accepting friend requests from clients, vendors and other professional contacts on your personal social media accounts.
Check Your Facts
If you do share news or discuss relevant or controversial topics on professional social media accounts that connect you to [COMPANY NAME], please be sure to fact check all sources. If there is a link to a news article, be sure it is a legitimate source. If you’re sharing an opinion, we recommend that you state clearly that it is solely your opinion. Some suggested language includes: “In my opinion…” or “I think…”.
Thank you for understanding and following these guidelines. If you have questions regarding an interaction or communication, please reach out to [INSERT COMPANY CONTACT].
I am asking that all direct client communications be sent to [INSERT COMPANY CONTACT] to be reviewed before sending.
Kindly respond to this email that you acknowledge this message and feel free to provide any feedback, questions and concerns.
[ADD SOME TYPE OF MESSAGING HERE FROM LEADERSHIP TO ENCOURAGE TEAM UNITY AND BOOST MORALE.]
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