Employee communication during a temporary shut down

Written by: Veronica Espinoza, SHRM-CP
HR Business Partner at Wurk

In the event your cannabis business is forced to temporarily shut down due to unforeseen events, such as COVID-19, there are communication steps to take to ensure your people feel supported and cared for.

Remember to seek legal counsel during events like this and to document all communications.

Communication guidelines in the event of a temporary business closure

Communication should be thoughtful and considerate of your employee’s health and wellness. It should be made clear that their well-being is your top priority.

  • Explain why the closure is happening: share what you can about the state of the market, reasons a closure is unavoidable, and remain true to the culture of your business.
  • Provide immediate next steps and clear actions your employees need to make to care for their individual health and the lives of their families. Encourage them to adhere to guidelines put forth by state and federal health organizations. Let them know you will keep lines of communication open throughout this challenging time.
  • Outline pay and benefits policies while closed:
    • Address if there are opportunities to work remote or take on other tasks or training while out.
    • Will employees be paid during the closure? If so, will it be full or partial pay?
    • Will employees still need to pay for their portion of benefits during the closure?
    • What benefits will remain in place?
    • Will length of service be reinstated in the event of re-employment (if laid off) or company resumes operations (if company temporarily closing)?
  • If your company has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) be sure to provide / reiterate that as an available resource to them.
  • Provide an overview of benefits and where on the employee portal they can refer to their current benefits should they need to.
    • Reiterate who your contact is for more information on your specific plan and claims advice.

Communication best practices

A member of your company leadership team must be appointed to track important changes in state and federal policy that will affect your employees. Share relevant information with your people as needed.

  • Use multiple forms of communication with your employees and communicate frequently:
    • Company-wide email, virtual all-staff meetings, individual one-on-one calls, chat services
    • Set scheduled, frequent meetings using recurring calendar invitations
  • Inform employees how frequently you will be in communication and keep them up to date on important timeline milestones.

Other actions to take

If you are not paying wages, you can reach out to your local unemployment office to notify them of the shutdown. If you are moving forward with a layoff, include the number of employees being laid off as the office can assist with filing necessary paperwork.

Additional resources

Wurk is closely monitoring COVID-19 and is providing real-time updates and resources to help you navigate this challenging time. Take a look here.

In the event you need to downsize your workforce, understand how to approach a reduction in force with compassion here.

Here is a Notice of Layoff letter to use in the event layoffs are necessary.