As companies begin to think about the “new normal” and what it means for the world of work, Corporate Communication is playing a greater role in driving employee engagement and connecting with employees in innovative ways to help them stay confident and focused while managing the transition. The best ideas address the changing employee experience, the impact of virtual leadership and the critical delivery of timely, relevant and transparent communication.
- Step up global internal communications
For global businesses, it is important to develop a globally consistent internal corporate communication strategy with clear guidance on how to communicate to employees on a market-to-market basis. This is critical since most country-based employees identify with their country-business entity. Many organizations will need to step up corporate internal communications activities across the world to ensure message alignment while allowing local responses to specific risks. Companies need to develop clear processes and accountabilities to ensure clarity, drive relevance and instill confidence with global senior leaders playing their part in ensuring engagement.
- Prepare for site recovery planning and communications
Have a clear playbook and plans for communicating site disruption and re-activation. In the event an entity has to close its doors, determine how you’ll communicate with all workers, including contractors and partners.
- Partner closely with your business continuity office or task force.
Ensure a senior communicator is part of the daily stand ups to work with business and functional leaders to guide them on integrating and focusing communication efforts. Provide a pulse check to integrate information and gather feedback across employees, customers and external partners.
- Audit communication infrastructure and resources.
Think through what is necessary for the communications process in terms of facilities and technological capability (e.g. command center, media briefing area, media monitoring capability, microsites, and redundant technology systems).
- Develop an organizational listening dashboard.
Create a dashboard focused specifically on this issue — with coverage of trending topics, sentiment, impact by geography or channel, and key coverage. Consider short pulse surveys or even creating a dedicated Q+A channel where leaders can quickly respond to employee feedback and questions. To truly ensure your employees feel heard and valued it takes more than listening, it takes action. Also include the action steps you are taking to address the feedback you are receiving – this is how you show you are actually listening to their input.
- Help employees manage stress and anxiety.
Employees may feel “everyday fear” about trying to reconcile work and personal obligations. Develop toolkits that enable leaders to talk about physical and mental health with their teams so they can treat employee well-being as a priority. Provide tips for fitness and consider programs like Peerfit that facilitate both in-person and online streamed workouts that may be paid for by your company’s health insurance or employee wellness dollars. Also check with your company’s health policy to see what counseling or therapy services are available to help those employees who feel they need professional mental health support.
- Help people managers develop and practice their emotional intelligence.
As managers work with their teams in new ways, they may need support in understanding how to build stronger relationships in the new work environment. They may need tools to help them understand, use, and manage their own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Prepare a resource library with articles, tip sheets, meeting guides, and online training courses on how to practice empathy, improve EQ, communicate transparently, and connect decision-making to purpose.
- Define the role and set expectations of leadership communications.
Provide clear guidance and publish short training videos or podcasts to cover best practices. Make sure leaders and people managers are equipped, prepared and ready to have conversations with their teams. Coordinate with the crisis communication team on aligning with communications to customer, partners and other stakeholders and media training.
- Prepare the “new normal” communications content engine.
Providing transparent and ongoing communication is the hallmark of good crisis communications. Yet, as employees begin to come back to work, the communications team needs to analyze the types of communication and content that will be needed to support a variety of scenarios. One of the most challenging aspects of staying relevant throughout the multiple workforce—and potentially business model—changes is the need to create a wide range of approved content that can be pushed out through multiple channels as quickly as possible.
- Develop a virtual engagement program.
Partner with HR and IT to design and activate an effective engagement strategy that can inspire employees who are new to or experts in remote work. Set up onboarding programs for virtual work; explore such visual collaboration boards as Trello or Workzone; develop guides to improve skills and aptitudes for remote work; review and update reward and recognition programs (some companies are sending physical packages that reinforce their brand); and, build communities where virtual workers can meet and connect with each other.