Companies can’t achieve great things without their people, but people rely on good internal communication to keep them motivated, productive and working towards a common goal. And in the current COVID-19 climate, they’re also looking to their employer for accurate information following government guidelines, as well as to maintain a sense of normality and team camaraderie whilst many people are working remotely.
Internal communication is important to ensure collaboration, a cohesive culture and to make sure employees feel happy at work. The focus on strong communication with staff will become even more important as we navigate out of the initial crisis communications mode of Coronavirus and into new ways of working. Whether that’s in the workplace or from home, teams may now be more removed from each other than ever before and, for some, it may stay this way permanently.
We’ve shared the following six top tips of things to consider in your internal communications strategy…
- Over-communicate in times of crisis
Although the initial crisis is essentially over, the world is beginning to open up again and many people are experiencing anxiety about going back to their place of work. As a nation, we’ve spent a vast amount of time ensuring we’re socially distanced from others and the thought of being in an enclosed space with other people from outside our household can be daunting.
Keep up your regular briefings on the status of travel, working from home, and changes to the workplace. Communicate frequently to maintain confidence – people panic when they feel a lack of control, so be sure to be consistent, calm and communicate regularly to support your employees. Internal communication is key to ensure company morale and business continuity is maintained throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Conversation, not dictation
Internal communications shouldn’t just be about disseminating information, but it should spark conversation and help you understand your team – what are they concerned about, what motivates them, what makes them tick, how happy are they. Encourage feedback as this will help increase employee engagement, productivity and overall retention. It will also give everyone a sense of belonging.
It’s important to always make sure you encourage two-way communication, with questions from employees being listened to and answered, and if appropriate shared with the wider team. Whatever the situation, it’s likely many people will have the same concerns and questions.
This has been and continues to be an unprecedented situation for everyone. Take this opportunity to let your workforce share their individual and collective ideas about how the new working environment might look – they may have ideas and suggestions that you haven’t yet considered.
Being transparent and creating a culture of openness and shared ideas will help earn respect from your team, as well as encouraging collaboration.
- Choose the right channels
Preparing, creating and sharing factual and engaging content is only as good as the tools you’re using to communicate with. There’s a plethora of channels you can use for effective internal communications and depending on what you’re communicating and who you’re communicating to, a different approach may need to be taken for each message. Sometimes combining multiple channels to ensure your message is received is the best approach.
Make use of tools such as company-wide emails or e-newsletters, internal employee engagement and intranet platforms, phone or video conferences, town-hall-style events and in-person team meetings.
Bear in mind, in the current climate most people are working remotely and may be for quite some time, so utilising channels such as company-wide emails or newsletters may be the most convenient way for people to digest messages at a time that suits them, without having to juggle other meetings or childcare. It’s also best practice to follow-up any important verbal meetings with written confirmation of what was discussed to ensure everything was conveyed correctly and it can be referred back to if required.
- Create a network of champions
Any company initiative needs internal champions to ensure it succeeds, whether that’s rolling out new company processes or welcoming people back into the workplace after a long period working remotely.
Identify people in your team who understand good communication, embody your brand values and culture, and then bring them on board as champions. This doesn’t necessarily have to be people in leadership positions, you should select people from across all levels of the business.
During unsettling situations such as Coronavirus, this is important as it can help put people at ease if they see others accepting and positively responding to your organisational initiatives and messages. It also provides teams with people they can comfortably approach with any issues or concerns they have, again encouraging two-way communication.
- Create engaging content
Good communication, internal or external, is about creating a dialogue. Whether you produce articles, videos, e-newsletters or podcasts, make sure you include ways for people to engage with, comment on and share that content.
Even though we’re in a serious situation right now, it doesn’t mean your internal communication has to be boring. Make sure it’s engaging as well as informative – look at introducing new ways of communicating with your team such as quizzes, surveys and podcasts. Or mix up your current internal comms – turn your weekly update email into a newsletter format with colour and images rather than a wall of text. Include a call-to-action or pose a question, get your employees really thinking about and engaging with what they’re reading, rather than just reading it and moving on.
- Celebrate success
Teams are currently doing great things under extraordinary circumstances, so make sure you celebrate it.
Recognition is important – it boosts morale and engagement. Share the positive stories that are happening within your company and highlight those people that are embodiments of your company values. It’s also a great way for employees to shout about the great work their peers are doing, encouraging contributions from everyone in the business.
Want to find out what good internal communications looks like?
If you aren’t doing all of these, are struggling with keeping your employees engaged and productive whilst working remotely, want to understand what good could look like or need some advice on crisis comms, then please feel free to get in touch with us for a virtual coffee.