Six tips and three Golden Rules for internal communications in 2021
What a rollercoaster of a year for internal communications. Unfortunately, there is no ‘how-to guide’ to navigate the challenges COVID-19 has thrown at businesses and their people. Consequently, operating in a pandemic has meant living alongside ongoing uncertainty. As a result, we look to leadership to make decisions, communicate them effectively and provide reassurance. From Government briefings to Team calls and Family quizzes, the need to feel safe and belong has never been clearer. And now our business leaders have a key part to play in the psyche of the UK workforce.
Great leaders have empathy
Exceptional leaders know that going through hard times make people stronger. They encourage and support those people to push on. By recognising their role and responsibilities beyond business, they turned to their values to drive authentic communication and build trust.
Consistent and clear
For Business Leaders, being forced to make fast and impactful choices based on limited information has been extremely stressful. As a result, leadership was tasked with landing the three key business priorities:
- Business Continuity – being honest about where things stood, not afraid to show vulnerability, and maintaining transparency
- Public Health Information – kept things clear, simple and frequent. Focussing on safety then repeat, repeat, repeat
- Driving positivity in uncertain times – sharing positive stories and creating uplifting moments to reignite a weary workforce
The communication axis will shift again as we move into recovery. Financial insecurity, instilling resilience, sharing reasons to be optimistic, and hope will all play their part to build momentum. Importantly, authenticity will be key to unlocking the levels or engagement required to kick start 2021.
Why Does Authenticity Matter?
Because its far easier to be yourself than it is to be the person you think others want to see!
Of course, there are many benefits to being authentic. First and foremost, research has shown that authentic leaders are more trusted and believable. As a result, that trust builds up the leader’s credibility and breeds confidence in their capability and intentions – this, in turn, motivates greater engagement. The Institute of Internal Communication (IOIC) found that 76% of respondents reported that the pandemic has positively impacted trust in leaders.
What can we learn from 2020 to improve communication and maintain trust in 2021?
Six things to consider
- First of all, consider different formats to convey your messaging. HR staff have reported that video updates and webinars have been more effective than emails
- Secondly, encourage and listen to employees views through many channels. This could be through managers, internal social media, and surveys and polls
- Consider a “Remote Workers Response Team”. They will be focused on asking staff about their concerns/questions and communicate the answers, transparently, throughout the organisation
- In order to avoid online weariness, try picking up the phone
- Additionally, encourage virtual social activities! For example: lunch and learns, coffee breaks, online exercise classes, and happy hours. As a result, employees are helped to overcome social isolation
- Finally, support employees to maintain their work-life balance while working remotely. It’s widely reported that remote workers can be logged on for two or three hours more per day. Conduct research and offer flexibility to fit around your employees lives!
Three Golden Rules
- Communicate frequently and well
- Ask for input from employees
- Above all, be transparent