Communities and states are beginning to reopen their economies under various levels of restriction. As CPA firms consider their reopening strategies and timelines, employee safety is of the utmost importance. Once that is managed, however, the next most critical component of a successful reopening is the quality (and quantity) of communication with employees and clients.
Sending one email is simply not enough. Your employees, and eventually, your clients, need to believe you are attentive and responsive to their needs and concerns surrounding reopening. Here are some strategies to consider in your reopening communications to employees and clients.
Communicating to Employees
Your employees should come first when it comes to communicating your reopening strategy. They are the ones that generate your product and income, and they are the ones who eventually may need to meet face-to-face with clients. Consider the following steps:
- Check-in: Conduct a pulse check before reopening and multiple times throughout the next few months to gauge your employees’ comfort levels. Their needs could fluctuate, and you should be quick to address them.
- Realize reopening may not be linear: Feelings may change depending on emerging circumstances, and your reopening plan will likely shift as well. Factors such as where you’re located, how your office is set up, and your opening procedures will all play into how and when you can reopen effectively with employee support.
- Develop your communication: Work closely with your marketing professionals to develop an engaging communication style. Ensure it is a safe conversation where employees feel heard and respected.
- Execute your communication strategy: Start with a company-wide presentation on what reopening will look like for your firm. Define your schedules and procedures so that everyone knows the specific actions that will be taken and when, including how procedure violations will be enforced. Follow up with creative messaging through email or video marketing.
- Communicate client obligations: At some point, some employees may have to meet with clients on-site. How will you ensure your employees feel safe working with clients face-to-face, and what do the logistics look like? You’ll want to consider options like personal protective equipment (PPE), conference room flow, and how your employees will interact with clients in their businesses. This will be a two-way conversation between you and the client to ensure both sides feel safe.
Communicating to Clients
Opening to the public comes with stringent requirements in most markets including density limitations, or how many people can be in a space at one time. Firms across the country are determining what client interaction is necessary and possible. Smaller firms in smaller markets may find it possible to meet safety requirements. Larger firms, especially those that reside in high rises, may not be able to see clients in their offices for the rest of the year. Communicating what is possible and how you will accomplish connection will be essential to client comfort.
- Consider your meeting logistics: Space out the timing of meetings to avoid congregating clients in the lobby and consider your conference room flow.
- Address the need for safety: As stated above, safety is paramount. Create and implement communications that confirm whether clients and employees are experiencing COVID symptoms or have knowingly been in contact with someone who has before meeting in-person.
- Create a standard template: Once your logistics and safety strategy are in place, create a mandatory pre-meeting communication template. This step will ensure messaging and procedures remain consistent throughout the firm and that everyone understands their responsibility to uphold the protocol.
- Communicate your requirements: Before your client sets foot in the door, communicate your requirements for meeting in-person. Including instructions on meeting invites and sending reminder texts are a good way to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Don’t abandon virtual meetings: Staying virtual should be the goal in the coming weeks and months. Encouraging your clients to choose the virtual option ensures greater safety for both sides.
Your reopening strategy and procedures are unique to where you live and how your office operates. Ensuring your employees and clients are informed and feel safe is the best route to a successful reopening.