The Spread of False Information

There are so many false sources of information surrounding COVID-19, especially across social media channels. According to research published in Psychological Science, the more someone is exposed to false information, the more likely they are to spread it even if they know it is not true. As an employer, this can make communicating your safety protocols with employees difficult. Whether your employees have begun returning to work or if your workforce is remaining remote for now, steps need to be taken to prevent false COVID-19 information from spreading between employees.

Keeping Employees Safe and Informed

False information not only impacts your communication efforts, but it can also put your employees at risk. Listed below are tips for preventing the spread of false information as outlined by communication and employee engagement consultant Lindsay Kohler:

  • Understand What Causes Rumors to Spread: Through Kohler’s time spent researching behavioral science, she found that spreading rumors served as an outlet for anxiety. It is a conversation starter that then allows us to explore our fears. Understanding that the fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 could drive the spread of rumors can help employer’s build their communication strategy.
  • Be the Trusted Source of Truth: Kohler cites the 20th annual Edelman Truth Barometer when she explains that 76% of employees are worried about consuming false information and are afraid of fake news being used as a weapon. To ease these fears, employers need to establish themselves as the one trusted source of information when it comes to COVID-19. Whether it is in person in the workplace or with your remote workforce, your goal should be to create a “town hall” where employees can ask you questions and receive accurate and timely answers. If you don’t know the answer, be open and honest about your efforts to find out the truth to their question.
  • Continue with a Positive, Accurate Communication Strategy: The most important thing to avoid doing is blatantly pointing out information that is false because this will not change employees’ minds. In addition to your version of a town hall, employers should create a multi-channel communication strategy where employees can access accurate COVID-19 information. As new accurate information surrounding COVID-19 becomes available, communicate with your employees how your safety protocols will change to reflect the current situation.

For more information, check out Kohler’s article!

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