starbucks digital signage employee communication

The Covid-19 pandemic represents the quintessential example of a major crisis confronting business.  Yet, even in less-surreal times, our business headlines are dominated with stories of disruption.  How organizations manage these crises is critical to their long-term success. 

For example, the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft impacts scores of businesses and jeopardizes the perception of one of the world’s most respected brands.  Similarly, items like data breaches, product recalls, and leadership misconduct perpetually threaten businesses in every sector. 

In the current business and media climate, any organization – large or small – faces an increased probability that it will be confronted with a business crisis.  How that organization reacts and performs is almost certain to be the subject of public scrutiny. 

Employee Communications in these moments is of paramount importance 

With all eyes on your organization, communications are key, not just to the public, but to your employees.  In these moments, employees look for clarity and direction.  They need to understand their role in the response, the messaging they are to provide to outside stakeholders, and where to turn for support, guidance, and leadership. 

Social media heightens the importance of strong employee communications, as the things your employees say – and do – during a crisis are often amplified on social media. 

The key attributes of Employee Signage in Crisis Management 

Networked Employee Signage is a uniquely valuable communications channel during an emergency; standing as an integrated part of your blended communications strategy and offering key attributes, that include: 

  • Immediacy 
  • Direct Communications from Leadership 
  • Reaching non-digital employees 
  • Offering a Visual Medium that allows you to share rich media and data visualizations while improving message retention. 

In addition, advanced Employee Signage solutions allow for cross-departmental utilization, internal social media integration, support for external news feeds, and live video transmission. 

The Impact of Employee Signage: Before, During, & After a Crisis 

One of the best ways to appreciate the value of Employee Signage in Crisis Management is to consider its utility before, during, and after the crisis. 

In ordinary day-to-day operation, Employee Signage brings value in helping shape your culture to better respond to negative situations, or, better yet, avoid the instances all together.  In addition, there are a host of activities you can preplan for that will allow you to rapidly respond to crises, when they occur. 

Best practices for leveraging your Employee Signage to better prepare your organization ahead of a crisis include: 

  • Engaging your employees with high-quality content that establishes and reinforces your culture, brand, and public posture.  An engaged workforce will outperform other workers during an emergency. 
  • Mitigating Risk by using your signage to reinforce key corporate policies and promoting best practices.  It is also useful to run awareness campaigns for items such as information security, sexual harassment, and a host of other topics that represent risk to your business. 
  • Preparing for emergencies in advance by creating messaging and graphics that can be rapidly deployed.  Consider the various constituencies within your organization and create content playlists to serve those displays with the most relevant content for that audience. 

During a crisis, Employee Signage represents a critical channel in your communications strategy.  Best practices include: 

  • Deliver crisp, concise messaging – everywhere.  This helps: 
  • Eliminate confusion, frustration, and rumors. 
  • Reinforce operational response and messaging. 
  • Direct people to critical information repositories and other communication channels. 
  • Establish situational awareness through data integration with critical business systems and external information feeds. 
  • Leverage an Internal Social Media platform – such as Slack – in your Employee Signage.  This will allow you to to listen to your employees, facilitate non-leadership knowledge transfer, and keep your organization synchronized in its response. 
  • Utilize Live Streaming to your signage to more effectively deliver your leadership messaging.  These messages can also be rebroadcast to the signage to heighten their effectiveness. 

After the crisis has subsided, Employee Signage helps the organization in the following ways: 

  • Employee Recognition – Congratulating teams and individuals for their performance during the crisis. 
  • External Messaging – Ensuring that your team is informed with the key talking points and posture for communicating outside the organization. 
  • Temperature Checking – Point employees to support mechanisms.  You can also leverage interactive survey features to better gauge if there are concerns that need to be addressed. 
  • Lessons Learned – Similar to best practices, use your signage to communicate lessons learned.  This will help prepare your organization for the next crisis. 
  • Create Normalcy – Aid your organization in returning to “normal” by incorporating messaging to lighten up the atmosphere and instill a sense of routine. 

Incorporate Employee Signage in Your Crisis Management Strategy 

The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a reminder that events can occur at any time, placing your organization in the public spotlight. Your preparedness and response – whether positive or negative – will define market perception and impact your bottom line. 

Employee Signage offers a valuable tool in your communications strategy, allowing you to better mitigate risk and engage your workforce before an event, better manage communications during the event, and helping your organization restore normalcy in its aftermath. 

Employee Signage helps ensure that your organization excels when it matters most. 

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