Internal communications (IC) teams haven’t always been given their due, but the events as of late have given them an opportunity to flex their muscles and demonstrate more than ever before their significance in the org chart.
It’s not gone unnoticed by CEOs and other executives, who have been made hyper aware of the need for accurate, rapid-fire information to be disseminated to employees.
But Internal Communication doesn’t just exist for crisis communications, of course. Of the many lessons learned trying to weather this current crisis, one of them is that internal comms is the secret ingredient to a thriving business.
What should be going on in this moment to ensure your organisation thrives in the future?
Being there for your people is number one.
The emphasis in your communications should remain on meeting employees where they are (especially those who are working remotely, in the field, and on the front lines) and making sure they have the exact information they need when they need it — whether it’s safety information, policy changes, and so on.
Consider what people are likely feeling right now: Still uneasy about the crisis, but at the same time weary of restrictions and ongoing bad news. Communication should focus on a mix of making sure CEO and other executive decisions are clearly understood and driving morale (which boosts productivity, which boosts profitability) via positive stories of internal team and individual successes, employee recognition, and opportunities for employees to connect and interact digitally.
IC and the ‘Next’ Normal of Post COVID-19
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll shift to a new period of adjustment, which will demand adjustments to your communication mix that build momentum and provide positivity.
Employees will be in a new phase, as well — rather than being in a constant state of anxiousness and information-seeking, they will be ready for change and to move forward. However, any enthusiasm may be dampened by a sense of loss, whether they’re mourning a loss of pre-pandemic life, the very real loss of people they know to the disease, or if they’ve lost work colleagues due to layoffs.
It will be critical, then, that internal communications teams help drive and promote an organisation’s vision for the future, while still acknowledging that loss and grieving phase, and at the same time, provide the necessary tips and news that will help keep people healthy.
With that, we’ve identified three commitments IC teams and the organisations in which they serve must do in the imminent ‘next’ normal phase.
1 Commit to Technology:
Organisations have recognised through the crisis that antiquated technology tools, systems, and processes just won’t cut it. It will be key to place a higher priority on committing to technology tools and innovation, particularly when people may still need to work remotely.
Employee communications apps are one tool that facilitate the kinds of communication and content that will be required in this phase and beyond: Communication that is swift, segmented and personalised to the employee, user-generated, enables teamwork and connection despite geographic separation, and can reach every team member on their mobile device.
2 Commit to Authenticity:
Realise that your employees aren’t an audience. They are your best collaborators. They need to be involved and given the opportunity to provide feedback, share experiences, lead conversations and generate ideas within your communications channels or employee app.
Through providing ways for team members to collaborate with you on communications, you’ll build essential trust and relationships with your colleagues, rather than being a separate internal entity that merely feeds them company news. This will further promote the resilience and teamwork on the grand scale required for your organisation to truly thrive.
3 Commit to Influence:
Because IC teams are the leaders in information sharing, they can have a great deal of influence over the attitudes and behaviours of employees in their workplace. This influence can be used for good in a couple of ways.
First, they can influence the career paths and on-the-job well-being of employees through training and educational opportunities. Everything from sales tips to best practices to leadership training can be provided via the right internal communications channels. This can help employees feel their talent is being tapped appropriately on the job and that they have opportunities to grow, as well as a way forward when things may still feel uncertain.
Second, they can use data about their communications to inform stakeholders of the importance of IC, as well as inform them about which channels and types of communication are best received by employees. If you use an employee communications tool, it offers a wealth of detail that can inform not just communication strategy, but employee engagement, as well.