COVID-19 UPDATE: CDC Issues Communication Plan for Employers

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently issued new guidance to help employers communicate effectively with employees about COVID-19. While the COVID-19 Communication Plan for Select Non-healthcare Critical Infrastructure Employers is targeted to employers in the agricultural, manufacturing, meat and poultry, and seafood processing industries, it can be a useful tool for employers operating in other sectors as well. As stated in the introduction, the purpose of the plan is to ensure that employees have the most “accurate, actionable, and timely disease prevention and control information” available.

What’s in the plan?

The CDC’s Communication Plan is divided into three sections:

  1. Methods to communicate your message
  2. Key messages
  3. Communication resources

Communication venues

Section 1 provides recommendations for developing specific COVID-19 communication materials and content for letters, posters, social media, and other settings — including text-messaging programs. There are also suggestions for working with “community leaders and union representatives” to develop messages and disseminate information. Community collaboration helps employers avoid inconsistency, inaccuracy, and the duplication of effort in their COVID-19 communications.

Key messages

This section begins with a statement about the highly diverse nature of the critical infrastructure workforce. The CDC states that the “translation and interpretation of materials and messages into employees’ preferred language(s), presented at appropriate reading levels, using plain language is critical to ensure successful prevention and control efforts.”

The guidance provides actual text the employers can adapt for communicating various types of messages to different employee groups, such as “Messages for workers who are sick” and “Messages related to case investigation and contact tracing.” If you are not already familiar with reading level assessment tools and other strategies to maximize accessibility in your communications, this section could be especially useful and enlightening.

Two primary messages are emphasized:

  • COVID-19 has affected communities across the nation, including ours. We are working with state and local officials and CDC to protect our employees’ health.
  • Please follow safety guidelines at work, at home, and in the communityto help slow the spread of coronavirus.


The final section, resources, includes links to a range of communication materials that have already been translated into several languages. There are also links to the CDC’s YouTube channel and Social Media Toolkit.

Businesses and non-governmental organizations everywhere are continually developing and evolving their communication management plans to respond to COVID-19 in the workplace and community. Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss your plan and ways to make it better.

About the Author: James Laboe

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