Communication Resources for the Return to "Normal"

May 20, 2021

With the CDC's recently updated, less restrictive guidelines and large group activities rapidly resuming, it certainly seems we are well on our way to safer, happier times. And yet, with more than half of Americans are still not fully vaccinated—about 62 percent at press time—and conflicting reactions from local, state, and federal governments, COVID-related issues are still a daily concern for grocery retailers and associates in many areas of the country.

Just as communication was the key to easing employee and shopper concerns when COVID began, it's every bit as important as we emerge from the pandemic and deal with changes in policy and operations. We've gathered the most up-to-date resources for independent retailers—from vaccine insights to signage and social media tips—to help you communicate with employees and shoppers. 

Vaccines

With a great difference between what the CDC has said fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals can do safely while avoiding COVID-19 infection or symptomatic illness, it can be difficult to navigate shared spaces when you don't know another person's vaccination status. Since so much of the new CDC guidance on masks relies on the honor system—individuals only going without a mask in public if they are fully vaccinated, and others trusting that people not wearing a mask in public are fully vaccinated—it's more important than ever that employees have the information they need to make informed decision around the vaccine. 

“It's paramount right now that we help employees understand the vaccine is important for their safety, the safety of shoppers, and the safety of the business,” says IGA CEO John Ross. "Being open, transparent, and ready to answer questions is the key to supporting your employees in their decisions."

Retailers can communicate the benefits with this CDC toolkit, which includes a letter to employees, fact sheets, printable stickers, and more.

Essential Worker COVID-19 Vaccine Poster

Need more vaccine resources? Read How to Prepare Employees for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Communicating Mask Policies to Shoppers

Many people have expressed confusion after the CDC updated their guidelines to say fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks indoors, only to be met with state, local, or business mask mandates still in place. While each store and business can set their own policies provided they follow local laws, it's important to make sure shoppers are up to date on your specific policies, which you can do through in-store signage and online messaging. 

If you continue to require employees to wear masks—either out of preference or because it's still required by state or local law—reframe the narrative to focus on safety and sanitation and create a competitive advantage. "Shift the in-store message away from COVID and toward your store's commitment to cleanliness, freshness, and food safety," Ross says in his recent blog post, which you can read in its entirety here. You can download and print the sign below to communicate that message to shoppers.

Safe Community-800w

Regarding mask requirements for shoppers, your decision to keep or lift mask mandates in your store should:

  1. Align with your local and state guidelines
  2. Be communicated to shoppers clearly and in multiple ways

For in store and on your website, create a simple message that states your policy and tells shoppers you're following state and local guidelines, then follow up with more detailed explanation on social media where you can better respond to shoppers. Below are a number of examples of how IGA retailers are using Facebook to get mask policy details in front of shoppers.  


Camano Plaza IGA's message to customers communicates that they will still require masks inside the store.

 


Warren's Plaza IGA's message about lifting their mask mandate is clear and concise.

And finally, in Country Store IGA's Facebook group, Butcher Chuck Pettry announced the store will no longer require masks, and detailed the decision in his post, which can be read here

Follow these social media best practices when posting COVID-related messaging.

Conflict Resolution

While arming your shoppers with knowledge is the best defense against conflicts and misunderstandings, conflicts may still happen. Retailers and associates can learn how to prevent or de-escalate common conflicts, like mask policy enforcement, with customers in this free conflict resolution class from the IGA Coca-Cola Institute.

Watch the Course

Labor and Pricing 

Mask issues may soon be a thing of the past in most areas of the country, but two additional COVID-related issues seem to be impacting grocery retailers everywhere: price increases and labor shortages. Stay tuned to The IGA Minute for more insights, best practices, and resources surround both issues. 

Have an issue that you need help addressing? Contact us and we'll share resources in a future story.

You May Also Like

These Stories on Featured Story

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think