The future of internal communications

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The future of internal communications

Done well, internal communications is the heartbeat of any organisation. It keeps your people connected, informed and engaged. It ensures information flows in all directions, and builds strong teams and an uplifting work environment. 

Needless to say, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the game. Today’s workplace is changing – perhaps forever. Employees are living through massive, sustained change, both in their personal and professional lives, as they adapt to new ways of working. Often, they’re juggling home and work responsibilities.  They’re not sure when they will go back to the office, and if they do, what it will look like.

What this has done is thrust the internal communications function to the forefront of all change management. As South African businesses start to reimagine the new world of work, with hybrid work-from-home models and staggered office schedules, an inside-out approach matters more than ever.

Whether your entire workforce is working remotely, or you have a combination of employees working from home and on-site, it’s business-critical that you communicate regularly and effectively with your people.  They can’t be hearing news about your company on social media or in the media: they need to know first. They need to be engaged, and they need to be heard. 

Covid-19 has changed what we communicate, the ways we communicate it, and how often we communicate. At ByDesign, we went from weekly all-hands meetings to daily status meetings, more listening sessions and more check-ins to see how our people are feeling and coping.

It’s nearly six months since we locked down for the first time. Preserving your corporate culture and reinforcing your values and your purpose that underpins your brand is crucial. We see three major imperatives to keep employees informed and connected.

Take your team along for the journey

For business leaders, it is vital to tell your people how your strategy is changing, and what that means to each person, team and department.  Things are changing constantly, and it’s critical to share accurate information about it quickly with your employees to get them on the same page.

Provide a single source of information and truth

People are scared and uncertain. We all are. Don’t leave them hanging. When they hear nothing from management, it creates a vacuum that gets filled with speculation, misinformation and fake news. Get on the front foot by keeping your people armed with the facts in an open and honest way.

Stop the email storm and start talking to your employees

Everybody has updates. HR, IT, Facilities, Security, Payroll are all sending out emails. Problem is, mails are easy to ignore. Rather use the technology we have to connect through a virtual townhall chat or a video link.  Encourage your people to turn on their video for all calls. It’s comforting to see real faces and make connections in this time. And don’t just focus on work issues: employee wellbeing has never been more important.

Let’s face it: life won’t go back to what it was for some time. For internal communications practitioners, this is a time to drive the use of digital platforms, to focus on how your people are doing, and making sure your communications are reaching the right people. We have the opportunity to highlight the value of internal communications to our businesses like never before. Let’s not waste this moment.

Vanessa Baard

Director of ByDesign Communications

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