The Coronavirus pandemic has redefined how we live and work, presenting new challenges for employers and employees alike. While many have adapted to the predominantly remote-based working environment that has been dubbed “the new normal”, maintaining high morale and engagement hinges on more than just an instant message or video call.
As part of our ongoing webinar series in which we invite thought leaders to take a coffee break with Seenit CEO and Founder, Emily Forbes for 30 minutes, we had the pleasure of chatting to the award-winning Corporate Communications specialist Gihan Hyde about key learnings, personal experiences and emerging trends in Internal Communications during Covid-19.
In case you missed it, here are the top 5 takeaways from the session.
1. Define your purpose
Today, the most successful organisations are those that are driven by purpose. If you are to tackle burnout brought on by remote working, you must re-engage your people by ensuring that every activity they do links back to the core purpose of the business in a meaningful way. Gihan encouraged leaders to gather feedback from employees on the purpose statement of the business, to ask what it means to them and how they see themselves fitting into it. Equipped with this insight, you are ready to start communicating with your employees in a way that is meaningful and reflective of your purpose and values.
2. Align wellbeing incentives with your purpose
At present, 41% of the global workforce is struggling with mental health issues – and the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped to improve this. Now more than ever, wellbeing must be treated as a prerequisite to productivity; it must be woven into the fabric of your organisational ecosystem and be prevalent in all the key moments of the employee experience - from onboarding to annual appraisals and at the forefront of your day-to-day communications. Only in doing so will activities or campaigns seem purposeful and relevant to the values of your organisation. Setting up a morning yoga class is a good start, but the reasons behind it and its link to the company’s core purpose must be established if it is to be effective and have uptake. Before launching a new campaign or initiative, ask yourself: what does it mean in context with your purpose? Only by aligning an initiative to your values will you start to build engagement.
3. Prioritise employee advocacy
When it comes to communicating ideas for wellbeing during this time, your engaged employees are your most valuable asset. They are the ones who can bring to life the stories of wellbeing in the workplace and bridge the gap between the business and its people. Gihan advised leaders to seek out employees who are already living and breathing the behaviours that the business’ values aim to inspire. With a little support and the right tools, these role models can become advocates for positive change.
Employee generated content creates a community around wellbeing and fosters a sense of pride to be part of a purposeful organisation who is truly engaged with its workforce. Once you have selected your employee champions, providing them with the tools to produce impactful videos, it will encourage participation from the wider organisation. This medium acts as a platform on which to amplify employee voices - the more content that is created, the more your people feel that they are able to shape the culture and act as advocates for positive change.
4. Create a bottom up communications strategy
While respecting cultural differences are crucial in a successful corporate communications strategy, Gihan relayed her findings as to how harnessing the power of employees and providing them with a platform to have their voice heard was the key to unlocking employee trust and increasing engagement. Rather than waiting for change to trickle down from the top or forcefully imposing it on your staff, it must be driven by the challenges and ideas of employees themselves. Only when a team feels truly listened to will they be able to feel valued in the organisation and see their place in the bigger picture.
5. Explore new mediums for engagement
In a year characterised by video conferencing and online learning, it’s hardly surprising that many employees are feeling a general digital fatigue from working remotely. This in mind, rolling out yet another e-learning course to click through will likely be counterproductive. Why not use the opportunity of remote working to get creative with your delivery?
Virtual Reality could be the medium that immerses employees in new ideas but may not always be possible. Live town halls have proved highly effective in establishing a sense of togetherness in large, dispersed teams. Similarly, employee generated videos are beneficial in generating cut through as they come directly from team members themselves – they serve to communicate ideas, behaviours and values, setting the tone for a strong organisational culture.
By including your employees in your ideas and giving them the means to have their voices heard on these crucial issues, you move towards the bottom-up approach in which your comms and campaigns are guided by the very people they are aimed at. Employee-Generated content continues to prove the most cost-effective and efficient way to achieve this level of engagement in a way that is authentic, genuine and relatable.
You can watch the whole webinar recording on-demand below for more practical advice on communicating to your employees during Covid-19.