As the threat of COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, many communications professionals are being tasked with communicating critical and relevant information about the disease to employees.
One way of communicating this information is through a dedicated coronavirus policy on a corporate intranet.
If you are wondering where to start with this, you aren’t alone. There is a lot of advice and material circulating on this topic, so we’ve collated some of it for you. We’ve outlined some key topics to include, as well as some examples or links to other sources.
What to include in your coronavirus policy
The content on your intranet is viewed as the single source of truth. This helps to prevent misinformation from spreading, while providing employees a consistent and trustworthy source of information. It also points people to the official sources of health guidance. For this reason it is important that your policy contains links to trusted and credible sources. Here are a few worth sharing:
- Government of Canada Coronavirus update
- CDC guide for Prevention & Treatment
- WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
- Scientific American’s guide to prepare for the Coronavirus
Also, the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists each accredited state health department, which can be helpful for finding state specific information.
And similarly in Canada, the Canada Health Act site contains links to Provincial and Territorial Health Care Web Resources.
How coronavirus spreads
There is still an abundance of misinformation relating to the spread of coronavirus. The World Health Organization provides some excellent information for exactly how the disease is transmitted, and how someone can potentially catch the virus. It is also important to outline the age groups and conditions that are most vulnerable to coronavirus.
How to prevent the spread of coronavirus in your workplace
Hygiene may feel like common sense to some, but it’s important to reiterate how low cost measures will help prevent the spread of infections throughout the workplace and in your community.
Circulate important information on handwashing and hygiene, as well as how often and when surfaces may need to be cleaned. This may include posters throughout your workplace, as well as having sanitizer dispensers in prominent places. If you require more information on this, reach out to your local public health authority for more information on hand washing and disease.
As a general rule, here are some steps that you can take to limit the spread of coronavirus (and other viruses):
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
As part of a cohesive communications strategy, it’s important to also ensure all occupational health and safety officers are informed and educated so they can promote hygiene to other employees and contractors.
No matter how much information is on your policy, your employees are still going to have questions. Ensure you have a list of frequently asked questions on your coronavirus policy page. Include questions such as:
- What is coronavirus?
- What do I do if I think I have contracted coronavirus?
- What should I do if I am schedule to travel to an at-risk country?
- What should I do if I have just returned from an at-risk country?
- Where can I access updated information?
- How can I reduce my risk of contracting the virus?
- Will wearing a mask protect me from coronavirus?
- If I have to self isolate, will I still have access to be able to work from home?
- What if I exceed my allotted sick days?
It’s a good idea to remind employees to also take care of their mental health. The spread of coronavirus has circulated a trough of misinformation–most resulting in unnecessary worry. Remind employees to continue normal routines, get some fresh air, eat healthy food, keep active, and get enough sleep.
Equipping employees to work from home
Like many organizations, we’ve also taken significant steps to ensure employees who need to work from home have all the resources and technology the need to remain productive. From video conferencing technology (are we surprised that shares of Zoom doubled last week?), to shareable documents, and access to subject matter experts, it’s critical to ensure your employees have every opportunity possible to work from home when necessary. .
Hopefully the above information will assist you in drafting a policy to review with other stakeholders. One final bit of advice: as the information surrounding coronavirus continues to evolve, so should your policy. Make sure to check links and articles from trust sources regularly, and ensure your employees always have access to an updated document.
Some examples of policies
If you still need some guidance on starting your coronavirus policy, here are a few policies worth emulating, or at least providing you with some guidance.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.
March 3, 2020