HR, leadership and communications teams must work closely together to ensure timely, consistent, open and honest communications. Leaders should be visible to staff, whether face to face or virtually, to relay key national, regional and local messages and actively listen and respond to staff concerns, questions and rumours.
Set up a working group of key decision makers, such as comms, HR, IT, legal and facilities to minimise time delays in getting key information out to staff. This will need to be constructed and managed differently in each organisation, recognising the local arrangements, constraints and challenges that may already be in play.
Only use trusted sources of information.
- The most up-to-date national guidance for clinicians is on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website at www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
- Communications leads also have access to CommsLink where resources are being shared by NHS communications teams.
- For health advice go to the NHS website.
- For the latest travel information, and advice about the government response to the outbreak, go to the gov.uk website.
- For public facing materials the PHE campaign resource centre.
- NHS leaders are encouraged to sign up to NHS England and NHS Improvement weekly bulletin.
Any new or complex internal messages not covered by national guidance or local policy must be signed off by the operational team at NHS England and NHS Improvement. They will then flag to the Department of Health and Social Care for sign off and information.
Communications channels you could use
- Regular face-to-face briefings, webinars or Skype sessions: an effective way to reassure staff, address concerns or misinformation and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions. Record or write up the key points and make them available on your intranet or via email.
- Intranet: consider a dedicated section on your intranet on coronavirus keeping it updated and signposted from the homepage.
- All-staff email: send an all-staff email at least once a day that pulls together important new information and implications. Link to the dedicated intranet section or relevant external links.
- Briefings for managers and team leaders: helps key messages filter down to teams; particularly if staff are spread across multiple sites.
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs): updated regularly from national guidance (where available) or local policies, new questions should be clearly highlighted.
- Mechanism to ask questions: to encourage questions and feedback, ensure a mechanism such as an email address and promote to staff.
It is very important information is from trusted sources. NHS England and NHS Improvement have unveiled a package of measures, in the battle against COVID-19 fake news and have been working with Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to make sure of this, for example ensuring all local NHS organisations are blue-tick verified on Twitter. If you want to share information on COVID-19 please contact NHS England and NHS Improvement or retweet content.
What trusts are doing
Here are some good examples of how trusts are communicating workforce messages on Twitter: