Crises put an enormous strain on any organization’s communications team. Non-stop phone calls, endless emails and inquiries from the media often leave little time to communicate with your own employees.

Of course, most of them will be aware of the crisis regardless, but it does not mean you shouldn’t take extra steps to inform and support your employees during this difficult period.

Treating your employees as key company stakeholders (which they are) is an integral part of an effective crisis response.

Just like your customers and shareholders, your employees must be on the list of prioritized target audiences during crises. Assure them that their safety, well-being and job security will remain your ultimate goal throughout the resolution.

Make sure your employees hear all company-related news from you first, and not from the outside media. In addition, all company statements and press releases should be easily accessible in a central location where all employees can access.

Prepare and distribute special communications memos informing your employees on how to best answer outside questions about the crisis, what to say on social media, and who they can turn to with questions and concerns of their own. Remember, you can’t forbid your employees from publicly discussing the crisis. What you CAN do, however, is explain why the proposed plan of action is best for them and the company in general.

Your employees are the backbone of your company. Prioritizing employee communication will allow you to build loyalty and trust within your organization. Oftentimes, this serves as the best line of defense during a crisis.