Coronavirus communications: Dos and don'ts

Uncertainty and isolation make it more important than ever to be seen, to be heard and to listen.

by Stephen Jones

There’s a way to communicate with your staff; and there are ways not to. The coronavirus epidemic is showing us the best of both. Tim Martin, the much-maligned boss of pub chain JD Wetherspoons, is a pretty strong example of what not to do. 

Last week, in a video to the firm’s 43,000 UK staff, a beverage-wielding Martin advised that they would not be paid after their last day of work until the company had worked out the government’s furlough leave package (this was after initially refusing to close pubs).  Although he probably meant it as a candid summary of the situation, Martin also suggested his staff should accept a job at a supermarket if they were offered one. 

Unsurprisingly the message met with a furious response, with workers accusing the chain of “having no regard for the financial and mental wellbeing of their staff”. The chain’s Crystal Palace pub was also vandalised. JD Wetherspoon has since said that employees will be paid 80 per cent of their wages, but the damage has already been done. 

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