Are traditional internal communications methods effective during the coronavirus crisis?
By Barry Nyhan.
Effective internal communications have never been so important; employees need to be kept informed during this rapidly changing and highly uncertain time. But with so many of us working at home and some workers also furloughed, IC teams are having to rethink the channels and formats they use for messaging.
A question we are seeing being raised is whether more formal and traditional internal communication channels such as email and corporate intranets are truly effective during the coronavirus crisis.
It is also a topic we covered on a recent webinar hosted by Workvivo titled “Email is not enough!” featuring David Nally (Head of Engagement, Woodie’s); Steve Bynghall (Digital Workplace Consultant, Spark Trajectory) and Workvivo’s Clara Walsh (Operations Manager).
During the webinar, we heard how Woodie’s are keeping their employees informed and engaged during the crisis using an employee app with over 90% levels of adoption. The panel also reflected on four main reasons why access via a personal mobile device and having more informal communications were proving to be a more effective way of keeping a remote workforce up to date.
1. The need for real-time updates
The current situation continues to evolve rapidly with government updates relating to lockdown regulations impacting everything from basic operations to livelihoods. Employees want to be kept up to date in real-time or near real-time.
Email is not always efficient, and you cannot always be confident that people are reading the latest version. A traditional intranet can work better here, but an app that is available on personal mobile devices is generally the quickest way to issue a critical update that everyone can easily access.
2. The need to connect all employees
Organizations need to be able to reach all their employees, but this is challenging if some of the workforces are “disconnected” and do not have corporate email accounts or corporate-issued laptops or mobile devices. This is common across sectors such as retail, manufacturing, leisure and travel; it means not everyone may be reached via email or be able to access your corporate intranet.
An employee app that can be accessed on personal devices means you can reach the entire workforce, regardless of whether they have a corporate email address or not.
3. Social tools provide more human connection
This is a stressful situation. People are worried about the consequences of the pandemic. It can also be lonely working remotely. People need some human connection, a morale boost, and a bit of levity during the working day.
More social and informal methods of communication that allow people to express how they are feeling, say thank you, celebrate success and get answers to questions can be surprisingly helpful in improving the working day. Social channels also allow for more impactful and authentic updates from leaders that resonate more strongly with employees and help them to feel a sense of community. Email and traditional corporate communications do not really provide this opportunity.
4. Dialogue and listening are important
Listening is critical. Organizations need to be highly adaptive to new circumstances and react quickly. This can only be done by getting a sense of how employees are feeling and coping; they can then be better supported.
Using social tools that invite feedback and comments, as well as snap polls, means organizations can get a much quicker pulse check on the challenges that employees are facing. Employees will also value that their opinions are important. Again, this kind of dialogue is simply not possible using email.