It's time for internal communications departments to shine
Current circumstances confirm what internal communications experts have known all along: among the most credible sources of information during a time of crisis are employers.
This reinforces the importance of internal communications departments, not only during pandemics or emergency situations, but always. Employees expect their employer to provide trustworthy information on how the company is handling the situation and what resources are in place to help.
For instance, what does the pandemic mean for my work situation? What resources are available? And what measures are being planned to keep me and my colleagues safe when called back into the office?
There are three steps internal communications professionals should consider when messaging around the pandemic:
- Provide managers with information to keep their staff informed and engaged
- Assist leadership in effectively disseminating critical information, such as through town hall-style meetings
- Ensure employees know about “soft benefits” that are available, such as continuing education and financial resources
Let’s take a look at each …
Arm front-line managers with information and communications tools
For many managers, staying in contact with their teams is harder when everyone is working remotely – especially in organizations that were primarily office-based. Providing managers with messaging and communications tools can help them sustain that interaction. At Arketi Group, for example, we were not a work-from-home organization; the pandemic forced us to change, and quickly. In response, we developed a content-rich Remote Working Managers Toolkit for our team leaders, which has since been adopted by a number of clients, too.
Central to this toolkit is a daily “remote working tip” that managers share with their direct reports every workday. These daily tips, tricks and best practices cover a wide range of topics – everything from how to look sharp on a video call, to avoiding a negative mindset during chaotic times, to ensuring you exercise daily to decrease anxiety.
Now is not the time for out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Front-line managers must be equipped to communicate with their staff on a regular basis. If you'd like to receive the weekly "remote working tip" for use within your organization, simply drop Mike a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
The pandemic has only served to accelerate the shift to digital marketing – even in B2B, long a stronghold of in-person selling. To stay engaged and connected with customers, prospects and employees, marketing teams must become digital-first overnight. Our information-packed webinar provides a roadmap for mastering digital marketing.
Help leadership inspire and inform effectively
In many companies, senior leadership is accustomed to having town halls and all-hands meetings to disseminate information across the company. In today’s remote working world, such practices are even more important. Employees want to know not only what is going on within the organization, but also across the industry and in the wider world. Information is important, but so are insight and inspiration.
At our client NCR, for instance, weekly virtual town hall meetings are led by the company’s leadership team and are open to all employees around the globe.
“Providing a consistent touchpoint where employees can see the fact-based decisions leadership is making in the face of the pandemic has fostered engagement and trust,” says Marija Zivanovich-Smith, NCR’s senior vice president of corporate marketing, communications & chief external affairs officer. “We don’t shy away from difficult topics, and we give candid answers to the tough questions each week.”
Communicate your company's soft benefits
Updates on salary and health insurance are routinely communicated to employees, but what about other benefits, such as wellness programs, crisis hotlines and continuing education opportunities?
Arketi recently worked with a client to stand up a financial literacy program for employees of a large retailer. It was rooted in an online quiz (think Buzzfeed) that helped employees understand their own “financial personality profile.” The program then delivered customized content tailored to the needs and learning style of each persona, providing financial education, money management techniques and tips on smart money moves.
Is your company connected with free or inexpensive continuing education courses employees can use to improve their skills? Can you provide staff with access to financial coaching? Arketi has offered our staff both in the past few months, and it has been appreciated. So, don’t forget to share these resources to help your teams better themselves and increase the value they bring to the organization.
Keep up the trust
Today, confidence in public officials and the media is at a low ebb. But employees still turn to their employers for timely, reliable and consistent information. Internal communications teams must work to ensure communications channels remain open – especially when more staff members than usual are working remotely. Doing so will go a long way, now and when we all get in the office again.
Arketi client Karen B. Clay, senior vice president of communications for Lendmark Financial Services, recently posted an open letter on LinkedIn to her PR and communications colleagues, asking them to “help your leaders speak up well.”
We found the article to be not only powerful, but also empowering. It prompted us and many other communications professionals into action. We hope you will take the time to read "Help Your Leaders Speak Up," and then respond to this initiative.