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Focusing internal comms in a downturn

As companies struggle to survive the recession, internal comms budgets are taking a hammering. But cutting back on communication is not an option. In today's climate, every word needs to count.

Communication really matters in a downturn, because when everything's uncertain, people get anxious, fearful and often downright paranoid. Management meetings behind closed doors can become the subject of frenzied speculation. Staff construct imaginary hitlists of departments and employees. Productivity plummets. The people you most want to hold onto start plotting their escape routes. The rest keep their heads down. And frightened managers head metaphorically speaking for the hills.

To minimise all this, it's vital to continue to connect with employees throughout the difficult times. Good connecting is about a conversation: it taps into feelings as well as facts, says Circle Managing Director Claire Livesey. It's important to acknowledge people's fears about what's going on and how it's affecting morale. Don't fall into false reassurance though be open about the difficulties you face and what the company needs to do to stay on track.

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