Internal communications in the COVID era
As we plan, adapt and behave accordingly in this new Covid era, our internal communications and engagement needs to follow suit. But internal culture and communication goes beyond pandemics, even though right now it’s proving most powerful.
Lockdowns and other Covid-related economic effects shook the foundations of businesses around the world, with BDO’s recent Global Risk Landscape 2021 report investigating the differences between those businesses who survived – even thrived – during the pandemic, in comparison to those who suffered “disaster paralysis”.
The report illustrates a clear connection between corporate crises and employee relations, with employee satisfaction and wellbeing, as well as internal cultural issues, ranked highly by participating businesses amongst their top Covid-related pressure points.
With many businesses forced to transition to long-term remote-based working, how can organisations adjust their internal communications to help keep their at-home workers engaged and supported?
Define objectives and vision
Businesses which clearly articulate their direction and mission, providing clarity and focus for employees, are likely to experience a more engaged workforce, even though they may only be communicated with intermittently.
Define your reason for being – such as through a mission statement and core values – and engage with your employees on this regularly, demonstrating how you are delivering on this for clients or customers.
Remember the three C’s
The need for effective communications to be clear, concise and consistent has been proven over the last 18 months, with time-critical decisions needing to be made and shared quickly and broadly.
Communicating with remote employees in a clear, concise and consistent way is fundamental to productivity and performance, to avoid confusion and disengagement.
Choose your channels
While your workers’ locations, conditions and hours of work may be different than before, your dialogue doesn’t have to be. It’s important to firstly understand how your employees want to be communicated with and then create a plan for consistent, two-way engagement.
An online survey could be a simple way to understand which channels or platforms your employees prefer to use.
Perhaps set up a social network-based virtual office for daily conversation and collaboration or a monthly face-to-face catch up (where possible) to ensure everyone stays connected.
Consider social engagement
How can you still offer a touchpoint for remote workers and reward them for their hard work?
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all approach as the circumstance of your business will dictate the format of social engagement. However, perhaps you could celebrate a “first Friday of the month” lunch or Christmas party virtually, sending a party pack for employees to open during a set video chat time.
Whatever way you choose to engage, it’s important to invest in events like these – they are your opportunity for workers to connect with your business and each other on a human level.
Despite being the most obvious principle for communications, many business leaders have been called out for a lack of authenticity in their communications which has had a damaging effect on their business.
It’s not about having all the answers. Truly authentic communication has the power to engage with your internal stakeholders during challenging times, setbacks, and inevitable hurdles.
Remaining transparent and honest during these times is invaluable to your corporate relationship with internal stakeholders – wherever they might be – and future of your business.