As we round another essential corner in the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is focused on reopening for business and the future of work is front and center. Organizations are engaging in weighty discussions about what happens next, and lessons learned are shaping decision-making at the leadership level and beyond.
With organizations shifting into another “new normal,” we’re taking a look at which aspects of the hybrid workplace are here to stay. During a time when communication was crucial to connect with remote employees, what winning strategies can we continue to implement for effective and engaging employee communications?
Here are a few communication lessons learned that can help carry your organization into the post-Covid era:
An Overall Increase in Employee Communications
In a recent survey of top CEO priorities during Covid-19, one-third to one-half of companies reported making significant communication changes since the start of the pandemic — in particular, a dramatic increase in employee communications. 69% of survey respondents said they increased targeted communications during the pandemic. They also made a switch to incremental, bite-sized employee communications versus sweeping one-stop-shop messages and memorandums. This easy, accessible approach is what many employees will come to expect in their future communications.
With such an immense amount of vital and time-sensitive information to communicate, employers still need to prioritize their messaging to keep employees up to date. Since many employees are expecting greater flexibility in their work arrangements, a shift in employee communications is necessary to keep them abreast of procedural updates. On top of that, prioritizing communications that bolster employee engagement and reinforce a strong company culture will be a crucial part of the internal communications strategy.
What’s In It for Me?
These days you not only have to communicate enough to keep your employees updated on all they need to know, but you need to make the communications personalized and targeted. Employees only want to know one thing — what’s in it for me? So be sure to be specific and keep it relatable.
Before you start your communication plans, you need to answer the following three questions from the employees’ point-of-view:
- What’s this about?
- How does it impact me?
- What do I have to do?
Further enhance this messaging by addressing it directly to the employee and, if possible, illustrate how this affects their scenario instead of listing all of the changes – tell them only what they need to know.
Digital Transformation, Tools and Technologies
Digital tools and technologies have been one of the most vital workplace components of Covid-19, particularly with regard to employee communications and corporate culture. Digital connectivity tools like video conferencing platforms and company intranets have allowed employees to continue to collaborate and move the organization forward in a transformational way. Additionally, virtual offerings such as video town halls, virtual Open Enrollment and virtual happy hours have kept social connection alive during a time when it was too risky to gather in person. With many employees expecting or even demanding continued remote work capabilities, we can expect these digital communication tools to keep everyone connected, collaborating and informed.
Looking further into 2022, it will be important to find even more ways to digitize your support for employees, especially as some start returning to the office.
In a traditional sense, employee communications have often been centered around creating content and disseminating it in a one-way channel like an e-mail or a memo. The pandemic has forced this outdated approach out of the running. Not only do employees expect communications from multiple channels, they also expect opportunities to communicate with one another.
Similar to how employees engage in their personal lives, their communications should revolve around the channels they know and love. Encourage them to post photos, videos and other communications on social media to increase cross-company engagement. Starting an employee blog is another way to easily share information in a more engaging medium. Since many will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, there’s still time to facilitate strong communication on popular platforms instead of turning to traditional, outdated methods.
Quickly Consumable Content
Another communication lesson learned is that employees have grown accustomed to communications that meet their immediate needs. Many are looking to modern, user-friendly, centralized platforms where they can access up-to-date information and have an immediate opportunity to participate or provide feedback. It’s time to turn away from employee communications that require extensive edits and approvals and toward content that is quickly consumable and easy to respond to.
An Emphasis on Employee Wellness
Employee’s mental health and well-being has been (and should be) the spotlight of the pandemic during particularly challenging and isolating times. In turn, an emphasis on employee wellness is no longer a reaction, but an expectation. From financial wellness initiatives like student loan payoff to stress management and employee assistance programs, communicating and encouraging the full range of employee wellness initiatives will be a pivotal part of the future of work. Fostering a strong, healthy workforce will be one of the organization’s top priorities.
Continue to Inform, Connect and Engage
If senior leaders have learned anything from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that strong crisis communications and internal communications can change the entire trajectory of the organization. From informing employees to inspiring employees, connecting them to the company vision, culture and each other, a multifaceted communication strategy formed from crucial lessons learned can carry your business into the next stage of the pandemic.