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Chapter 4

How Will Internal Communications Change After COVID-19?

Businesses have to pivot their employee communications strategy to earn employee trust and productivity.

As the pandemic began to escalate, businesses had to move quickly. For many, communications became a guessing game. How could they keep their employees informed? What should their leaders say? What was the best way to reassure employees and keep them up-to-date with critical information? 

When employees were situated in one office, working side-by-side, internal communications was easier to master. A Monday morning huddle, a company-wide email and you were done. But in today’s working world, where remote working is becoming the norm and many employees are no longer face-to-face every day, businesses that can pivot their internal communications strategy are the ones that will earn the trust – and productivity –  from their people. 

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Employers need to cut through the clutter, (an average inbox sends and receives more than 120 emails every day), and reach employees with important information, no matter where or how they work. Digital tools, like an internal communications platform, can help cut through the noise and deliver tailored content – via desktop or phone – to reach employees with the most relevant information. 

In an ever-evolving environment, timely communication is critically important to a company’s survival. Businesses that already had systems in place to get news out to employees about store closures, furloughs, safety measures and new protocols were one step ahead of their competitors, who lost time and crucial moments of communications trying to patch together or implement new, untested tools in the heat of the moment. The confusion and discord this created for employees further heightened the stress and productivity loss among employees. 

Our own clients, who use digital internal communications tools such as blogs and one-stop-shop information hubs, saw a 560% increase in unique blog views year-over-year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

how will employee communications change after the pandemic

These blog views were accompanied by an increase in employee comments, as employees connected and communicated with one another about the news and updates they received.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced how important it is for companies to provide open and honest, transparent and timely employee communications. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 echoes this need, stating that employees are expecting up-to-date information, with 63% asking for daily updates surrounding COVID-19 and 20% requesting it several times a day. 

When faced with a world where employees feared for their health and job security, transparent and open communications helped employees to feel engaged, respected and supported. Businesses that keep visibility at the heart of their internal communications strategy, whether that’s making leadership more visible through timely blogs or sharing company-wide stories of successes through challenging times, could reassure their employees: We’re here for you.

Visibility improves leadership’s bond with employees, improves engagement, instills confidence with and provides comfort for your people.

While leadership visibility is always important, in a remote or dispersed workplace environment, it’s even more critical as employees look to their leaders for direction. When senior leaders speak, employees listen. Using a platform to increase awareness of the company strategy and mission – and, importantly, how employees can contribute to that mission – can help keep employees focussed and engaged on advancing business objectives. 

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The powerful communications lessons learned during the height of the pandemic can be integrated into your post-COVID-19 internal communications strategy to include: 

  • Daily blog updates from members of the Leadership Team to connect everyone in the business to company goals and mission
  • Segmenting communications to deliver timely, relevant information to groups within the business
  • Opening up channels for two-way feedback so employees can have a voice in what they desire for increased engagement and productivity
  • Expand communications media to include video messages, to reach more employees on a human level
  • Create 'digital hubs' to host specific resources and publish timely updates surrounding a particular topic, like returning to the offices

Creating communications that will capture the attention of your employees will keep your people aligned with what they need to do to help your business survive and grow in a post-COVID-19 world.

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