HR Crisis Communication Guide

CXO UG recommends segmenting into three to five internal audiences to start, typically by level of management: employees, managers, and senior leaders. Alternatively, segment by geography, department, or work environment, or some combination of the three

Geography Employees from different locations may share similar business objectives depending on the department they are in, but the extent of the crisis may vary by location in severity, and therefore, need different communications.

Department Different departments may have a similar culture, but different business continuity plans in the face of the crisis. Segment communication to ensure departments get the right information. This approach is best used in organizations where departments have distinct functions.

Work Environment Work environment may affect several things: the communication channels audiences have access to, the amount of time available to consume information, or the ability to directly contact the audience. Depending on the severity of the crisis, work environments may change without notice. Ensure your communication matches the channels and mediums employees have access to.

Draft a plan

Establish and share consistent protocols that leadership and employees can rely on for information involving business continuity.

Example of protocols:

All messages concerning business closures will come from senior leadership.

Any messages concerning working from home will come from your team lead.

Direct all questions concerning time off and resources to HR.

Make sure to include a mechanism for two-way feedback in your protocols to ensure any questions that may be helpful for everyone are being shared upwardly.

Assign accountability

Determine who will oversee delivering messages at the organizational level, department level, and team level.

Set timelines

While crisis situations operate in uncertainty, it’s important to be as transparent and as consistent as possible when delivering communications.

Key messages that may need to be segmented, given work environments and employee level, include:

Office closures

Work-from-home policies

Resources available


CXO UG has created the Leadership Crisis Communications Guide Template is to provide communicators (i.e. anyone writing or sharing communications) across the organization with guidance on how to communicate effectively. It is meant to be customized by the communicator and should be used in conjunction with CXO’s Crisis Communication Guide for Leadership.

Link – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

How to protect your business from coronavirus?

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