Confusion. Uncertainty. Panic. Downright fear. Employees the world over are hungry for clear, factual and transparent advice and guidance – and they’re turning to their employers for that.
Cue the humble FAQ.
FAQs provide leaders, managers and HR and engagement teams with the information they need to answer employees’ most pressing questions – consistently and quickly. So, rather than having to resort to the high-level information usually included in announcements, employees have detailed, factual information that reassures and guides, saving a lot of anxiety for all.
A live, bespoke FAQs document is a vital tool in your COVID-19 communications armoury. But they’re tough to do at the moment: the information is changing every day, the details aren’t always there, and the issues people are facing are broad and numerous.
Here are our ten tips to write yours:
1. What do your employees want to know? Ask them. Brainstorm every conceivable question they might have. Some are obvious, others not so much.
2. Think of it as a story and categorise questions into relevant chapters. It’s often useful to break them up into audience-specific questions, eg parents with childcare challenges… drivers out on the road…
3. Make the navigation ridiculously easy. Chances are you’re going to end up with a lot of FAQs. If they’re online, simple navigation using hyperlinks and drop-down menus makes it quick and easy for people to find what they’re looking for without wading through everything else.
4. Follow the three Cs: clear, confident, compassionate. When writing, consider the situation we’re finding ourselves in at the moment, and bear in mind the sense of confusion and panic your employees will have. There’s a lot of scaremongering out there – so be the voice of authority, providing reassurance wherever you can without rose-tinting. Encourage compassion in your company by showing it.
5. Answer their goddamn questions! Wherever possible, start answers with a yes or no, followed by more information to explain more, why, how etc. But don’t dodge questions you can’t answer – be honest instead, for example, ‘It’s too early to say.’ Follow this up with any helpful information, such as what you’re doing in the meantime.
6. Write from the reader’s perspective. ‘How do I…?’ ‘Will I need to…?’ ‘What if I…?’ A simple but powerful tactic.
7. Steer clear of the 3rd person. Use ‘us’ and ‘we’ wherever possible. It’s more friendly, more personal and helps create a sense of camaraderie.
8. Likewise, use the active voice and not the passive, I beg of you. The passive voice obscures what’s happening and creates uncertainty, confusion and distrust: ‘It has been said that…’ should be ‘X said that…’. ‘Additional information can be obtained…’ should be ‘You can find more information at…’. A simple twist that makes it easier to write, to read, to act on.
9. Things are bad enough – don’t make them worse with jargon. Make everything as simple as you possibly can. Ditch uncomplicated words, shorten your sentences, be concise, use everyday language. Be helpful.
10. Make sure you promote and update your FAQs. Give them a prime spot on your intranet, cascade it to line managers, put a popular FAQ up on Yammer or Slack with clear direction to the main FAQs portal. Spread the word far and wide. And importantly, keep them up to date.
People are crying out for clarity and certainty – do whatever you can to give them that.
Need help with your FAQs, or any other communications? We’re here for you. Get in touch to set up a quick call.