As organisations move through the stages of the lockdown, employee communication should be given significant thought. In an environment where people are consuming news more than ever before, rules are changing rapidly, and where fake news is causing tremendous unrest, organisations are not only needing to determine when and how they communicate, but also what they are telling their employees.
“Naturally, as human beings, touch is a very important element, and perhaps one that many of us have taken for granted up until now. However, while we are operating in a virtual environment, we need to remember that culture and creative communication is the only way that we can foster this,” says Seugnet van den Berg, founding partner of Bizmod.
She offers some key points to guide your internal and employee communication:
1. Communication curatorship
This is a crucial part of communication during the COVID-19 crisis as this will form the backbone of the organisation’s communication strategy during the different phases/levels. The organisation’s stance and priorities need to be agreed upon and these need to be clearly communicated in all messaging. There is an abundance of information being communicated throughout the day on coronavirus and, as a result, the organisation should not be tempted to divert their messaging. An approved strategy will keep everyone aligned.
2. Proactive communication
Effective communication cannot be done retrospectively; it has to be timeous and relevant. Planning and preparing content in advance, that identifies needs, trends and different outcomes is imperative – What happens when the lockdown is lifted? What happens if we go back to level 5? What happens if a positive case is found in the organisation?
Knowing how you will communicate your organisation’s plan in different scenarios will help to ensure that employees are feeling secure.
3. Type and tone of communication
The type and tone of communication should be informed by the stage of the crisis and how employees are feeling at that point. Most employees will be feeling anxious and uneasy and therefore all communication should be precise, relay facts and provide uncomplicated and straightforward information. Utilising different communication channels can assist in relaying messages and ensuring a sense of contentment amongst recipients.
4. Visual representation
The visual aspect is often neglected but it is not only about ensuring the message draws attention, but also provides an opportunity to reinforce the organisation’s brand in a virtual work setup. Visual elements help to facilitate a sense of connectedness.
“The overall purpose of internal communication during this pandemic is to keep the lines of communication open – to create an atmosphere of affiliation and belonging, to reduce anxiety and to reduce risk,” concludes van den Berg.
Seugnet van den Berg is a Founding partner of Bizmod, a project solutions and management consulting company that works with companies to solve issues and implement plans.