Communication and transparency are key elements of continuity and trust. At this stage, it is required more than ever, especially in a more structured and mindful approach. People have enough frustrations, and this can cause a lack of trust and motivation. By communicating in the right way, you can mitigate many of the risks which can be encountered during and after the pandemic. Compliance communication, which has many forms, are all affected during this crisis. Some of the main areas to focus on are internal communication with employees and the board, external communication with regulators, enforcement agencies, supervision authorities from one side and customers, suppliers, and third parties from the other side. To start your communication strategy, a pandemic communication taskforce or committee should be formed to communicate information from various business lines and departments. This should include IT, human resources, executives, board, legal, compliance, risk, operations, facilities, customers, partners, suppliers, third parties, and regulators.
1. Internal communication with staff
Before going into the technical part, consider emotional related communication. Whenever you are planning for the right compliance communication, keep in mind that you are dealing with humans of emotions, and these days stress levels are soaring.
A study by Alight Solutions revealed that “even under normal circumstances, workers feel under-informed by their employers. In volatile and uncertain times such as these, organizations must be open and honest in their communications. Transparency is key while a situation is evolving. Clearly explaining how you’ve prepared for and are addressing such an event will help put your people at ease and avoid the need for damage control later.”
From the study, Alight Solutions recommend six key guidelines for effective communication with employees:
- Be open and honest: Empower managers during a crisis by facilitating real, honest, and supportive conversations.
- Provide frequent updates: It is important to inform employees of what is happening inside the organization.
- Meet workers where they are: Organizations can make it easier by equipping managers at every level with the messaging and resources they need.
- Empower managers to engage: Prepared and well-versed managers can better handle tough conversations and make employees feel supported and heard throughout the process.
- Recognize people’s individual circumstances: Give thought to the communications’ needs of all workers.
- Show compassion: Remember that people are more than just employees; they are also parents and caretakers.
2. Business continuity compliance communication strategies
This strategy must be sufficiently flexible to address the pandemic’s impact, no matter how long it takes. Thomson Reuters’ Compliance Checklist recommends that a point person should be communicating inquiries and sending updates to all employees, top executives, and the board of directors.
These communication strategies should address remote access solutions and emergency procedures that outline how to recover data and equipment. It should also provide guidelines on how to reach employees and security specialists.
Firms should also recommunicate all relevant policies related to the use of personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and WiFi networks and remind employees that the policies still apply to those working from home, and security protocols will be alert.
Finally, always ensure that your employees hear essential information from the company before finding out about it from somewhere else.
3. External communication with customers, suppliers and third parties
In addition to the sympathy and emotional approach highlighted above, communicate with customers, suppliers, and third parties what is being done behind the scenes to provide continuing service, and what delays they might experience. Transparency is key here. People have enough doubts, and not being transparent can cause a lack of trust. Frequent communication will ensure these stakeholders that things are under control—something they need to hear continuously.
4. Communication with regulators and supervisory authorities
It is important to strengthen communication and encourage continuous dialogue between supervisors, regulators, and enforcement agencies. Don’t forget that it is imperative to exercise vigilance in the current environment in response to the changing risk environment for criminal activity, including fraud and identity theft and many other financial and cybercrimes. According to the Australian Government SMRs, high-quality, accurate, and timely suspicious matter reports give the supervisory agencies the best chance to detect, deter, and disrupt criminal activity.
While practicing all the compliance communication processes, don’t forget to show sympathy and remember that tensions run high during a crisis. Keeping a consistent level of transparency and maintaining a human element in communications will help organizations in the long run.