Tips for Combating COVID-19 Myths Among Staff

A pandemic can bring on anxiety and fear, even among people who are not normally prone to feeling anxious or overwhelmed.  It is easy to see how the situation we all have been dealing with can make us particularly susceptible to believing falsehoods especially when everything about this is new for most of us and even the truth can seem strange.

The spread of misinformation can exacerbate fears and anxieties. It can also lead to people making illogical decisions or being irrationally angry with others. This can cause problems in and out of the work environment, for example, creating negative sentiment toward an employee who is unjustly believed to have the virus.

Employers can take steps to combat the spread of misinformation and myths about COVID-19. Here are a few tips for employers:

  • Provide reliable resources of information. Examples include the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Providing accurate information gives employees resources to turn to.
  • Communicate frequently about the virus, the situation in your location, and what your team is doing about it and why. Be a source of reliable information.
  • Pandemic misinformation is common. Encourage employees to think critically about what they hear, ask questions, and fact check to clarify information.
  • Remind everyone in the organization about your Respect in the Workplace policies involving discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
  • Communicate to employees the steps you are taking to protect them and how these actions will make a difference. Explain the basis for the actions, such as information from the CDC that supports the decision.
  • Be clear in communications about the known and unknown risks present in the workplace.
  • Review all communications that are to go to a wide audience before sending to ensure there are no biases or unverified claims. Word choice matters.
  • Train the management team and all leaders on these points as they are often the primary point of contact for employees.
  • Have a plan for handling any cases of the virus that emerge in your workplace and communicate the plan.

As we begin to reopen workplaces over the coming weeks and months, think about other options your organization can do to ensure factual information is being presented to employees, rather than myths and misinformation.