Lincoln Absence Advisor

Crisis Communication

April 17, 2020 Lincoln Financial Group Season 1 Episode 7
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Crisis Communication
Chapters
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Crisis Communication
Apr 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Lincoln Financial Group

Every day, there’s more new information to absorb – from the news, from our coworkers and our communities. Employers play a big part in the overall communication picture, and during a time of crisis, it’s especially important to help people stay calm, informed and supported. People turn to their employers at times like these, and they expect transparency, confidence and accuracy. Kelly DeAngelis, Lincoln’s Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications, talks about using different methods of communication to keep employees engaged and focused on their job instead of worrying about the unknown. She also discusses communications with customers and how the same principles of accuracy, transparency and timeliness can reassure customers they will continue to experience the level of partnership and service they’ve come to expect. 

LCN-3039014-041320

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Show Notes Transcript

Every day, there’s more new information to absorb – from the news, from our coworkers and our communities. Employers play a big part in the overall communication picture, and during a time of crisis, it’s especially important to help people stay calm, informed and supported. People turn to their employers at times like these, and they expect transparency, confidence and accuracy. Kelly DeAngelis, Lincoln’s Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications, talks about using different methods of communication to keep employees engaged and focused on their job instead of worrying about the unknown. She also discusses communications with customers and how the same principles of accuracy, transparency and timeliness can reassure customers they will continue to experience the level of partnership and service they’ve come to expect. 

LCN-3039014-041320

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Karen Batson:

Hi again everyone. This is Karen Batson, Marketing Manager for leave and disability here at Lincoln Financial Group. There has been a lot of information provided to us over the last couple of months, and it continues to come out. More importantly, we recognize that these communications are coming from various sources, our leaders, our coworkers, and our communities. So how do we best communicate in a time of crisis? While I sat down with Kelly DeAngelis, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications at Lincoln Financial and we discussed the varying levels of communication as well as the importance of transparency, flexibility, and compassion. Well, welcome Kelly. Thank you for joining us today.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Thank you Karen, I'm so excited to be here.

Karen Batson:

So we are finding now more than ever that communication is so important when things are changing quickly, but there are multiple layers to that communication that I want to talk to you about today.

Karen Batson:

So let's start in general. What are we seeing today in regards to communication that maybe we weren't seeing as a typical pattern a couple months ago.

Kelly DeAngelis:

During times of crisis, the definition of communication, it changes. In times like this communicators play a critical role to help keep people feeling safe, calm, informed and supported and that's in addition to keeping the business running. Honestly, that's a little different than our normal marching orders and what we normally do. I saw a study this week and it said that people are most trusting of their employer at this time for getting the info they need to continue to manage their lives. And that's an amazing honor and an amazing responsibility for us. It puts, it, yeah, there's a big responsibility on the shoulders of communicators, of companies and of leaders. And I think one of the ways that we can really make people feel secure and informed and worthy of their trust is by making sure that leadership is very visible.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Leadership visibility is critical in times of change. And as communicators, we can help our leaders be out there more than ever and make sure that when they're out there and when they're communicating, they're calm, they're reassuring and they're transparent because the more confident that people and employees are that their leaders have things under control, the more quickly we're going to be able to adapt to this new normal. And then we really can shift our focus to moving the business forward.

Karen Batson:

So do we have specific strategies that leaders are, or in the employers that we're talking to today can apply kind of for this fast moving and uncertain situation?

Kelly DeAngelis:

I think so. I think that especially now, but really no matter what the situation is, communication is never just about checking a box that you've communicated something, right? You can't communicate just for the sake of saying, yup, did this all right, what's my next task?

Kelly DeAngelis:

Because every communication, every touch point that a leader or a company has with someone is an opportunity to help strengthen and build that relationship either between leaders and employees, between people or between a company and a person. And I think that's why it's more important than ever to be thoughtful about what and how we're communicating. Really making sure we think about who the audience is, what do they need to know?And as long as we keep our audience front and center, I think we're going to be in a really good place.

Karen Batson:

Now, have you seen different leaders using different types of mediums to deliver that, that message? Or trying new things to get that message out more clearly to say employees or other folks?

Kelly DeAngelis:

Absolutely. Yeah. This is a time where leaders need to be ready to be flexible because an email, contrary to popular belief is not always the solution.

Karen Batson:

No.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Sometimes it is, but sometimes there are other ways that we can communicate things in a better way. Sometimes it's video, sometimes it's a podcast maybe. There's lots of different things that we can try. And this is a time when leaders need to be flexible. I mean, just think about a video from a leader from their home office or their kitchen or wherever it is that they're working. That helps you make that personal connection with that leader, right? Like, Oh, I all, I see you're eating off of a Fiestaware I also have Fiestaware. Or oh your kid just ran through the frame, my kid interrupted me on a conference call earlier. It helps connect at that personal level and really reiterate, we are all in this together and we're all working together. We're all dealing with the same challenges and I think that that is worth a lot.

Karen Batson:

Yeah. I think that that component of us all being in it together, solving the current situation together and getting through it together. It's just, it's very reassuring to an employee to see that. So I just think that's such a great component to what you're saying. I also think like utilizing that word flexibility, we see that everywhere in this kind of times beyond communication, just being flexible in our communities, in our workspace with our actual work. It's just an important element for us all to remember that we're just, we're working through this one step at a time.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Right, absolutely. This is the time. If you wanted to try something new, now is the time because people understand that we have to be agile, we have to be nimble. We can't just do things the way we've always done them. You and I can't just sit down in a conference room and record this podcast.

Karen Batson:

Right.

Kelly DeAngelis:

That's not the environment we're in today, but I think that that also can really drive a lot of creativity.

Karen Batson:

Definitely going to learn some things. I think all of this for sure. Now, I was reading an article the other day about kind of communications and crisis, um, and it really emphasized the importance of demystifying the situation that can really help put people's mind at ease. Going to kind of that transparent component you were just mentioning, how are we finding the balance of communicating quickly as that that's been important while also being accurate when we find out new information every day?

Kelly DeAngelis:

First and foremost, accuracy is absolutely critical. Think of just on a normal day when you've had something communicated to you and then somebody had to come back and tell you that it's wrong. It's not a great feeling. But imagine that feeling now. If somebody was telling you something important about what's going on with your job or your health, that is a terrible experience.

Kelly DeAngelis:

If something is communicated to you inaccurately now even more so than it already being a bad experience on a quote unquote regular day. So I think accuracy is critical. And then, if we think about the cadence and the pace of communications in the previous world, we would oftentimes wait until we have all the information, kind of package it together, communicate once, right? We don't want to over communicate. We'll give you all the information you need to know right now. But I think what we're doing now that is really helping to promote that culture of transparency, is we're sharing everything that we have that we know is accurate. And then we can say, we know there are a few things that we don't know. Here's what they are, here's what we're doing to try and find out these answers, and that we will share this information for you when we have it.

Kelly DeAngelis:

But here's everything we know right now. And I think that really helps employees, customers feel fully informed and when you feel informed, I don't know about you, when I feel informed I can focus on my job and getting the job done instead of worrying about the unknown.

Karen Batson:

No, absolutely. And it goes back to that transparency, right? I mean we want to speak with empathy, we want to be transparent and we want to be thoughtful and it just is an overall theme that we all consider now in this environment. Now we talked a lot about employee communications and how leaders should be talking and communicating information. Does communicating to customers take on a different approach at all?

Kelly DeAngelis:

I think at its core, communicating to customers is the same. Communications need to be accurate, they need to be transparent, they need to be timely because our customers are facing the same things that we're all dealing with.

Kelly DeAngelis:

But, I think we have a real opportunity that to put their mind at ease about the things that they rely on Lincoln for. Look, we've been here for 115 years. We are a company that you can rely on and I think it's important that we get that message out to our customers. We can keep you informed. We'll let you know about changes that are happening, whether it's with the legislation or something else that could impact you. And I think that reassurance is really important. You're going to get the same service that you're, you've been accustomed to and we're here for you. We're still looking out for you and all of our clients as well as our employees, just like we have every day for the past 115 years and just like we'll continue to do in the future.

Karen Batson:

Also, good example of partnership, right? When times get tough, we're still there to be a strong partner for you as we get through business.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Yeah, and this is the kind of thing where I think quarantine has certainly taught me how much I rely on other people and I'm just communicating with them in a different way now. Right. I've been to more virtual happy hours in the last two weeks than I think I have real happy hours in the past few years.

Kelly DeAngelis:

But it's given me an opportunity to reconnect with some people and I think that we should embrace that, embrace what this is driving us to do, to connect in different ways. And importantly, I think we should make sure that we continue that once we are back in the office and things are back to normal.

Karen Batson:

it's just that human factor, right? It really brings out community. Communication is so at the core of it, it just impacts so many different things. So last communication style I want to ask you about in what you've been observing, is the workforce communicating especially as definitely most of Lincoln has gone remote. How important is that workforce camaraderie and, and how, how can we help employers facilitate communication to help that comaraderie?

Kelly DeAngelis:

I think it's critical. I mean I don't know about you but the folks here in my house, my husband, and my almost two year old daughter, are not super interested about hearing the tiny ins and outs of what I'm experiencing my job everyday.

Karen Batson:

Yeah.

Kelly DeAngelis:

The conversations that I need to have with coworkers, so I think that it's, I mean for me certainly, but I think for everybody it's, it's really absolutely critical and I think this is where we're really seeing leaders do a lot more to your point, things they might not have been comfortable with before. A lot of those videos, leaders are getting very involved on our internal social channels and they're really demonstrating a good way to engage and our employees are engaging with the content that they're creating. So it's resonating with our employees, but it's not just happening at that broad level. I'm seeing it happen on teams across the company and in smaller ways. I'm part of a recipe exchange with a group of communicators just sharing now that we have less time commuting, that means more time cooking dinner.

Karen Batson:

Absolutely.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Yeah. Right. Our dinner games have really been on point.

Karen Batson:

Definitely stepped up, Right?

Kelly DeAngelis:

Exactly. So sharing recipes that we're cooking, or there's a team that's playing Jenga, which I'm not sure exactly how that works, but just anything that can keep a team involved and keep them connected with each other, whether it's through the formal happy hours like we talked about or just the informal notes, just Hey, how you're doing, how are you doing? Hey, here's something that made me think of you, kind of replacing the office pop-ins that I think a lot of us are used to with kind of email pop-ins.

Karen Batson:

Yeah, that brings up a good point just to even an IM that we're typically using to check in on a project, just do it to say hi or good morning and to keep those connections going is important and kind of lose sight of that cause you're go, go, go with work, especially in the communication field when you have so much going on, but it's just important to stay connected.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Right, and there's no shortage of funny work from home or quarantine memes out there, right? So great opportunity to to share some of those with friends and just keep building those relationships even though we're not physically together. That doesn't mean that we can't keep strengthening the relationships that we have and even building some new ones.

Karen Batson:

So have there been any new tools that you've been using or you've discovered using more since working from home?

Kelly DeAngelis:

I think I'm using a lot of the same, the same tools, but I'm using them a lot more and sometimes relying on them differently.

Karen Batson:

Interesting.

Kelly DeAngelis:

You would not have caught me on video in a meeting when I was in the office, but now I'm using video almost all the time and I'm trying to be real conscious of what's in my background, that up sometimes and our instant messaging tool I'm using a lot, lot more than I used to. So I think it's more of a, a change in how and how much we're using tools for me at least.

Karen Batson:

Well we'll have to do some research to see how that group's doing a virtual Jenga, and bring that back to the folks here.

Kelly DeAngelis:

Sounds great.

Karen Batson:

Cause I'm very curious now, but thank you so much for joining us, hopefully you'll join us again soon.

Kelly DeAngelis:

I'd love that. Thank you, Karen.

Karen Batson:

Thank you.

Karen Batson:

To everyone listening, thank you for joining us. We will continue to cover topics that help employers and their employees navigate through this new environment. So be sure to subscribe to Lincoln Absence Advisor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclosure:

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lincoln Life and annuity company of New York, Syracuse, New York, and Lincoln Life Insurance Company of Boston, Dover. New Hampshire affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.