Are you remembering the basics of internal comms during COVID-19?

by Janet Houen, Group Manager – Organisational and Change Communication

Published on
April 15, 2020

In troubling times, internal communication is your greatest ally and an absolute priority. It doesn’t matter what type or size business you have, your employees must be top of mind as you navigate the impacts and challenges now and yet to come.

In the best-case scenario, your business continuity depends on keeping people motivated, productive and safe, with an eye firmly on the light at the end of the tunnel. For those already feeling the impacts and facing uncertain financial futures, sticking to your values is a foundation communication principle, especially for the difficult conversations. In either case, communicating clearly, carefully and often with your team is a critical success factor.

Your employees are your brand — whatever the future holds, if you can maintain and even enhance your reputation as an employer through this roughest of patches, you will emerge with integrity intact and a solid start from which to rebuild.

The internal communication principles are tried and tested. It’s time to go back to basics, reduce the ‘noise’ by streamlining and targeting wherever possible, and keep your leaders close, informed and actively leading and communicating. Here are our top five tips for getting it done:

  1. Values are the touchstone
    Use them as a communication decision-making tool. Make clear the link between values and outcomes. Reinforce the language and the actions.
  2. Timely, tailored and practical communication
    Strip things back to basics — focus on communication that gets the right information to the right people at the right time in the right way. Cut the email overload. Focus on consistent messaging, clear guidelines, a functioning cascade process via leaders to teams (especially in multi-location, larger organisations), a ‘single source of truth’ online if possible.
  3. Maintain employee engagement
    This thing has been ‘shock and awe’ so far. People are feeling anxious and tired already — but there’s a long way to go. Keep connected, make online ‘face-to-face’ work for you and your teams, spotlight success stories and achievements, set some innovation challenges that get people thinking about recovery and bounceback.
  4. Keep feedback loops working and meaningful
    If you don’t already have it zinging, think about the most open and timely way to keep the intelligence flowing. Give people an avenue to raise questions and concerns and get answers quickly. Feedback also helps the leadership team stay on top of emerging issues and ideas, and plan communication accordingly.
  5. Put your best people forward as communicators
    Not everything has to be led by a CEO or the boss. Think about your subject-matter experts, give them a role to play when the message fits their remit to help build trust and credibility.

Has your company had a bright idea for doing things differently during the pandemic? What’s your best bet for keeping your people up to date and the wheels moving? How are you coping with online video communication and its demands if you and your teams are in a working-from-home environment?

We’d love to hear from you — leave a comment below, start a conversation, ask us a tricky question — we’ll do our best to rise to the challenge.