COVID Accelerated Employee Communications Momentum — Don’t Slow Down Now

COVID Accelerated Employee Communications Momentum — Don’t Slow Down Now

Chante Jones   |     July 05, 2022

From the Great Resignation to remote and hybrid models – and everything in between – workflows and workplaces have been forever transformed, as have the ways in which employers engage their employees. And, let’s face it, there’s no going back.

That’s good news (really, it’s true) for internal communications, which, for many organizations, went from zero to 60 when the pandemic forced a global shift to remote work almost overnight. Internal communications teams were forced to move at lightning speed to keep workers informed and engaged, crafting a fast-paced stream of messages that provided not only clear direction but also a sense of security and community.

Two years later, employees expect – and welcome – that level of communication. In other words, you’ve got their attention. 

Don’t lose that momentum. 

Follow the Signs

The pandemic taught us employees crave honest and open communication from employers, especially during times of crisis and transition. With operations and COVID protocols that seemingly changed by the hour, the need for timely, transparent information became constant, putting internal communications teams in the driver’s seat of the employee experience. 

To help employers better understand COVID’s ongoing impact on workers and their mindsets, Falls & Co.’s Employer Brand/Employee Experience practice group recently surveyed hundreds of full-time, white-collar workers across the U.S. Respondents ranged in age from 25 to 66 years of age and were 53% male and 47% female. 

Here’s what they had to say about company communications:

  • Roughly half surveyed (47%) rated the effectiveness of internal communications about major company decisions "excellent." Nearly as many (43%) noted it was only “fair.”
  • These ratings were lowest among younger, female, and lower-income groups, where 14% to 15% of each group rated their employer's communications effectiveness as “poor.”

Employee communication is an integral part of employee engagement. It’s where the rubber meets the road. No one likes feeling left out of the loop or as if they don’t matter. They want to feel like part of the team, listened to, valued and respected. Good, intentional communication helps build trust, a sense of shared identity, community, and culture. 

Remember, It’s a Two-Way Street

Cliché, I know, but it’s an adage that holds true: communication is, indeed, a two-way street. Gone are the days of one-way or need-to-know-basis communications. Even prior to the pandemic, social media changed the internal communication game. In their personal lives, employees became accustomed to immediate information access and the ability to provide instant feedback ... and they came to expect the same from their employers. 

COVID amplified the importance of and demand for that constant, interactive feedback loop. Being socially distant dictated that we rely on digital communication to fulfill our need for human connection. Not surprisingly, employees want to see and feel a human connection with their employers, too, in person and from afar.

Whether you’re looking to hire or keep talent, your employees – current and prospective – need to know who they’re working for and why. Every email, video, and town hall – each message, each channel – provide you with a touchpoint to help them better understand company culture and foster those feelings of connection to what your organization stands for, who it values, and why its mission matters.

Internal communication is about bringing employees together. It plays a vital role in how your workforce views the organization’s cultural landscape. That’s never been more critical than it is today, with so many options available to job seekers. Employers who are best equipped to communicate in ways that build community engagement are those that have prioritized making employees feel connected to the brand, the organization’s direction, and fellow employees.

Map It Out 

We’ll likely navigate the twists and turns of this new workforce reality for the foreseeable future. It’s a journey. Employers who want to ensure everyone in their organization is headed in the same direction will need a roadmap, a communication strategy that charts the course to effectively deliver messages that inform, inspire, and engage teams at all levels. Here’s how to get started.

  • What’s your starting point? Review the strategies you already have in place and audit your existing channels to find out what’s working well and what needs improvement. Survey your workforce to assess their needs and desired level of engagement, giving them some say in how and when you communicate with them.
  • Where’s your destination and when do you plan to arrive? Like with any business plan, you need to set a goal and aim for it. And you need to define key performance indicators to measure your results so you can determine what success looks like for your organization.
  • Who’s coming along for the ride? Identify the audience(s) you are trying to reach so you can personalize employee communications by roles and departments within the organization. Ensure the content and tone of all messages are relevant and delivered to the right people. You need them invested in the journey to stay the course.
  • What deliveries do you need to make along the way? Think about what you want your audiences to know, feel, and do. Let that drive the messages you put in front of them.
  • What vehicle do you need for the journey? Organizations now need channels that reach all employees wherever they are. Make sure your communications are accessible to every employee and are timely, reliable, and interactive.
  • What are your checkpoints? To create a good employee experience, you need to do a diagnostic every now and then. Pull metrics, analyze the data, and request feedback from your employees. Set a cadence to periodically send quick-and-easy pulse or engagement surveys along the way to gauge how far you’ve come. Listen to what your employees have to say so that you can course-correct when necessary. 

Don’t Take Your Foot off the Gas

While many internal and external factors work together to create the employee experience, it’s clear that internal communication significantly influences workplace culture. Now is not the time to take your foot off the gas. Maintain a constant speed, shifting gears as necessary, and take this opportunity to boost employee engagement so that your organization can motivate, retain, and attract top talent.

Download Falls & Co.’s eBook for the full results of what the national engagement survey uncovered and contact tbernot@fallsandco.com or jmolnar@fallsandco.com to develop measurable solutions that shape positive internal experiences for your workforce. 

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Chante Jones

Chanté Jones is an associate vice president at Falls & Co. With nearly 20 years of experience, Chanté combines her passion for storytelling and her technical expertise to provide companies of all sizes with integrated communications strategies, including content development, public relations, brand awareness and more.