Over the weekend, brands sent a wave of communications to customers—via email, social media, and the mainstream media—around closing up brick-and-mortar shops as government leaders attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Patagonia, Nike, Apple and others noted the importance of social distancing. (Apple will reopen stores in Greater China amid a decline in cases.)
"The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, in a statement posted Friday to the company's website.
Apple also said hourly employees at its closed stores will be paid, as well as those needing sick leave.
"We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures."
Not All Companies are the Same
Unfortunately, this isn't the case for every business. Last week, Whole Foods' CEO suggested employees donate sick time to fellow employees. (Whole Foods has since communicated its two-week paid leave policy on its website.)
Trader Joe’s Union leaders are asking for hazard pay as employees work frenzied shifts in crowded stores. These workers serve as the front line as consumers stock up and hunker down. Many small businesses and service workers seem unsure about paid leave and unemployment benefits with city and state governments closing down restaurants and bars in an attempt to limit gatherings large and small.
Across the country, cities are shutting down. Trader Joe’s needs to provide workers hazard pay starting right now. Crewmembers are terrified, knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic. It is not enough to receive PTO only after being proven sick.
— Trader Joe’s Union (@TraderJoesUnion) March 15, 2020
This merits clearer messaging about where workers can find information regarding coronavirus paid leave and other benefits from federal, state and city government agencies. Currently, cancellations and closings are broadcast on television, email and social media. Still, it is unclear where employees can go for aid and relief.
As the country waits for the Senate to vote on the House's proposed coronavirus emergency bill, government communicators should create a plan to aid workers who need it most.
Best practices could include:
- Holding press conferences announcing specifics of a relief bill
- Clear, concise language on steps to take
- Launching a central website where workers can apply for benefits
- Social media and direct mail outreach
- Multi-lingual campaigns to include all workers
This article is part of PRNEWS' daily COVID-19 coverage, click here to see the latest updates.