As we approach the end of a tumultuous year, our clients and their employees are facing additional changes and critical decisions that may (at least temporarily) add disruption and stress. Questions around the COVID-19 vaccine and how the company will “return to work” once the pandemic has subsided are just two issues keeping HR folks awake these days.

Viewpoints from Bob Simpson

Businesses often try to inundate their employees with as much information as possible, assuming this will help everyone reach the same conclusion.

The reality, particularly in today’s environment, is that employees can easily be overwhelmed – and either make a poorly thought-out decision or make no decision at all.

When explaining complex or stressful topics to employees, companies need to answer three questions:
  1. What do we need the employees to know?
  2. How do we need the employees to feel?
  3. What do we need the employees to do?
The first and third questions probably seem self-explanatory.

We need to provide the information that employees require to understand the topic, and we need employees to take the appropriate action. But often, we can get bogged down in the details of an issue and instead avoid the salient points that will drive a decision. Sticking to the basics – to actionable tasks – can prevent this.

The second question, “How do we need the employees to feel?” may be a more unusual item to consider.

Why do we care what employees are feeling about an issue or a decision? We care because emotion drives action! When we care about a topic or a decision, we are not only more likely to act, but we will often take the time to ensure we have the information we need to make the correct decision.

With change on the horizon, and employees having to make an increasing number of difficult decisions for themselves and their families, answering these three questions when crafting a message for employees can reduce the strain they experience to arrive at their conclusion. The EPIC Communications & Engagement team can assist.


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See results from our In It Together pulse surveys on our COVID-19 strategic collaboration and idea-sharing forum


EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.