Zoom calls, virtual meetings, online events, juggling work and home schooling. There’s no doubt – the pandemic has changed the day to day working lives of many.
As we look optimistically towards the future, what key lessons can businesses learn? And in particular, has your business’s response to the pandemic created opportunities or challenges for the future of your internal comms?
Re-evaluating what’s important
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote is certainly worthy of one of those inspirational wall posters: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Experts suggest that living through the pandemic has emotionally reset everyone. They describe it as a terrible bereavement, one that has made people re-evaluate the things that really matter to them. Purpose, they argue, has evolved. It is now a more humane sense of purpose that people desire, one which calls for more compassion and greater transparency from business.
Businesses must therefore spend time re-evaluating what it is that matters to staff to avoid looking completely out of step in future communications and engagement with employees.
Actions speak louder than words
The pandemic has, without doubt, shed a light on the ethical standpoint of many businesses.
What might have been communicated through internal comms 18 months ago may no longer ring true, or be consistent with actions that have been taken.
Some businesses have attracted criticism for being too slow to respond to the pandemic – from failing to create the covid safe workspaces required, to being inefficient in setting up remote working for staff to work safely and effectively from home.
Businesses, and those responsible for managing internal comms, may need to reflect on whether there’s work to be done to regain the past, hard-won trust and loyalty of employees.
Reflection and transparency
Many are rightly calling for the UK Government to face an inquiry into how they’ve handled their response to the pandemic. Opportunities exist for businesses to conduct their own internal inquiries, communicating the outcomes to staff in an open, honest and transparent way – one that fosters a culture of learning, continuous improvement and innovation within the business.
It’s time to reflect on potential changes required to a whole host of internal communications including:
- health and safety – providing staff with reassurances about returning to workplace settings
- workplace culture – fostering and maintaining workplace culture should the business decide to embrace remote working as its long-term strategy
- change communications – launching initiatives or raising awareness of new operational changes within the business.
Focus on the positives
It’s been great to witness the humility of individuals and businesses during the pandemic; donating unused computers to schools and schoolchildren, creating safe working environments for staff, demonstrating the extent to which staff wellbeing and welfare is a priority, offering and embracing greater flexible working for staff and also volunteering their time and services.
As well as creating challenges, the pandemic has undoubtedly presented some with opportunities.
If you want to assess where the pandemic has left your internal comms, start by considering some of the following:
- What bridges might need to be rebuilt with employees in order to regain their past won trust and loyalty?
- If the relationship with our employees has improved because of actions we’ve taken, what can we do to build upon this?
- Has the pandemic altered our employees’ sense of purpose and do we understand what now motivates them?
- Does the manner in which we communicate with employees need to change?
- Do we need to adopt a different tone of voice – one that’s more empathetic and reassuring?
- Have new channels of communication opened up with staff and what opportunities do these present us with?
- Do we need to put plans in place to build, or rebuild, our company culture in light of changes to the business?
We’ll leave you with some food for thought
How your business has handled its response to the pandemic will now influence how you move forward with your internal communications. When you’re planning any changes, remember two things:
- You reap what you sow.
- Actions often speak louder than words.
If you need any help either building or rebuilding your internal comms, then please contact us.