U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

08/04/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/04/2020 21:33

COVID-19 Communication Plan for Select Non-healthcare Critical Infrastructure Employers

Employers should use multiple ways to communicate to and inform employees about COVID-19 prevention measures, policies, and procedures. Communicate messages via multiple methods to increase workers' understanding of information and recommendations. Begin and/or expand COVID-19 communications with workers and third-party contractors as quickly as possible. There is little need to develop new informational materials because many materials are already available and translated into multiple languages. Communicate in employees' preferred languages and at their reading levels. Use materials and messages that have low to moderate reading levels (i.e., sixth grade level or below) so as many workers as possible can understand them. Use alternative, verbal communication approaches (e.g., announcements, small group meetings/huddles, etc.) for employees who cannot read. Several communication methods that employers should consider using are presented here.

As part of an effective COVID-19 communication plan, it is important for employers to provide opportunities for employee feedback and questions.

  • Remind employees of established communication mechanisms and how to provide feedback to supervisors and management
  • Consider establishing a COVID-19 designated information channel. Examples include:
    • Telephone hotline employees can call with COVID-19 questions or concerns
    • Email account specific for COVID-19 questions and issues
  • Employers may want to create a workgroup that is composed of employees, management, and union representatives. This workgroup should evaluate and provide feedback on the effectiveness of communications and develop strategies to address any gaps.

Communication channels

Letters to staff

  • Consider providing a letter to all employees, written at the appropriate reading level in plain language and translated into the primary languages used by employees, to:
    • Highlight strategies and measures the employer has taken to protect employees from COVID-19 while at work including entry screening, installation of physical barriers, social distancing measures, and increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection,
    • Encourage or remind employees about what they can do while working to protect themselves and others,
    • Detail COVID-19 information, including prevention, signs and symptoms, when to seek medical care, policies and procedures for sick leave, short-term disability, and policies for returning to work after exposure to COVID-19 or illness, and
    • Provide links to employee-specific websites or social media sites where staff can obtain information on COVID-19 related topics.
  • Develop new letters as needed to inform staff of new COVID-19 prevention measures, policy updates, or to provide information about workers' concerns.
  • Letters can be mailed, emailed, or included with paychecks.

Small group meetings/huddles

  • Consider conducting meetings or huddles with small groups of employees to verbally communicate messages in their preferred languages.
  • Group employees who speak the same language together to facilitate communication.
  • Consider having employees share approved safety and health messages instead of always having supervisors or managers lead the information sharing.
  • Encourage employees to ask questions and share information.
  • Ensure employees wear cloth face coverings or disposable masks and maintain at least 6 feet between each other during these meetings or huddles.

Post communication materials at worksites

  • Communication materials can be displayed in common work areas where workers have access, visit frequently, and have enough time to review the information.
    • Communication materials should be developed in the preferred languages of most employees, written at the appropriate reading level, and expressed in plain language.
  • Posted materials should be large enough so images and words can be easily seen from a distance.
  • Communication messages should be rotated regularly to engage employees' interest and attention.
  • Areas to post materials could include:
    • Cafeterias,
    • Locker rooms,
    • Restrooms,
    • Entries,
    • Screening areas,
    • Break rooms and outside seating/eating/smoking areas,
    • Transportation arrival/departure areas,
    • Hallways/walls,
    • Congregate housing and living spaces,
    • Onsite occupational health clinics, and
    • Other areas where staff frequently stop or pass by.
  • Printable posters and other print materials can be repurposed from existing CDC materials or can be used as a starting point for development of employer-specific materials.
    • Section 3: Communication Resourcesprovides links to materials on a variety of topics (basic COVID-19 information, disposable facemasks and cloth face coverings, keeping well at home, etc.), many of which are available in multiple languages.

Worksite television monitors

  • Employers can use existing videos on a variety of COVID-19 health topics, some of which are available in multiple languages (Section 3).
  • To further capture employees' attention, employers can develop their own videos. The videos should be in languages commonly spoken by employees and could feature employees who speak these language(s).
    • Transcripts for various health topics are already developed and available (Section 3).
  • Content should rotate frequently to attract and maintain employees' attention.

Social media

  • Employers should consider using or developing a closed/private, company-only Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other social media page and encourage employees to follow it online.
  • Routine postings that reinforce health information and infection prevention behaviors can be shared on social media.
  • Employers may wish to develop their own messages, or they can use existing relevant prevention messages tailored to social media that have already been developed by CDC (Section 3).

Company text messaging programs

  • Employers with a text messaging program can send workers brief text messages, which are automatically translated to preferred languages, to reinforce prevention measures and remind employees about company policies and benefits.
  • Urgent messages can be sent rapidly using the same mechanism, as needed.

Community leaders/union representatives

  • Employers should work with community leaders and union representatives to develop key messages and resources that can be shared by community and union members.
  • As trusted sources of information, community leaders and union representatives should be involved with message dissemination through methods they have already established.
  • Additional opportunities for sharing health messages with employees should be explored with these leaders. Your state and/or local health department may be able to help facilitate these community relationships.