People want to work in companies where leaders are connected to the people. The best chance to do that amid the ongoing pandemic is by leveraging the power of technology and striving to keep your people together despite the miles in between. With all the uncertainty that has brought about a significant disruption in both the personal and professional lives of employees, they look for guidance, and the only way leaders can do that is through leveraging communication, rather technology.
Gone are the times when technology was something optional. Today, if you want to communicate, you need technology. Both the words have become synonymous. Be it to connect with your colleagues or your family, the existence of technology to enable virtual collaboration has accelerated its adoption across the global population.
In an endeavor to help organizations rethink and redesign their communication strategy amid unprecedented times like the present, People Matters in partnership with Workplace from Facebook hosted a webinar, “Staying connected when apart” where the speaker, Abby Guthkelch, Global Communications Solutions Lead, Workplace from Facebook, discussed:
- What it means to be a connected company and why it's important
- Approaches to building a connected culture with a remote workforce
- How to get leadership teams active and engaged
Read on for highlights from the webinar.
The business case for effective and strategic communication
Communication is among the most basic and most overlooked components of any business. Before we get into details let’s explore the impact of effective communication as highlighted by recent surveys. The right communication strategy impacts business by making it:
- 21% more profitable
- 17% more productive
- Bringing down attrition by 40%
If employees are the grains (or flour) that add value and strength to your organization, communication is the water that binds them together, enabling teamwork and collaboration, helping them optimize tools and systems built to enhance productivity, thereby leading to significantly better business outcomes, and a seamless employee experience.
This process becomes convenient when employees are just a desk, shoutout or a summon away, however, the circumstances created by COVID-19 have left 80% of the workforce deskless, or in other words, to work from home, away from office premises and certainly out of the visible perimeter of colleagues and leaders. How do employees feel now? This is how:
- 54% employees feel they don’t have a voice in their business
- 86% employees feel disconnected from the company’s head office
- 25% employees have ideas, but haven’t shared the same with anyone
People feel overlooked and ignored and that’s the experience and sentiment carried by individuals interacting with your clients and customers every single day.
Does the need to feel connected with employees feel relevant now?
Despite the startling statistics above, 76% of employees continue to trust their employer over other companies - a great opportunity and reason to turn things around and ensure you don’t let your people go further down the road of feeling disconnected.
Breaking down communication
According to a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on what sources of information do employees consider most reliable under the present scenario, the results highlighted:
- 63% of the respondents stated they believe the information coming from their employers
- Globally, 43% of employees wish to receive a coronavirus update from their employer at least once a day
- The order of trusted sources of information include scientists, doctors, CDC officials, and WHO professionals, with traditional media being at the lower end
Given both the trust and expectations employees have, how can you as an organization or as a leader step in to redesign your communication strategy? Here’s how.
To begin with you need to narrow down your intent into three buckets - what do you want people to think, how do you want to make them feel, what do you hope for them to do.
Once you identify your end in mind across the three buckets, find out how can you add value in each, and then break it down into the following four segments:
- Information (Crisis response): This is the first step to build yourself as a trustworthy and accountable crisis response centre for the workforce. The purpose must be to provide employees with real-time and accurate information that’s relevant to them. The key being relevance and informative, not a 24*7 scroll on events but insightful facts and data that is likely to impact their lives, accompanied with safety guidelines they must follow. Additionally, the packaging of this content matters too to ensure employees can connect and relate with it and take the necessary action that is needed, be it through a video, infographics, or other forms of communication.
- Collaboration, inspiration and wellbeing (culture and community):This aspect routes back to how you want employees to feel. Amid crisis, and one like the present one, that has pushed people to isolation and social distancing, it is even more crucial to maintain the connect and inspire the workforce to be supportive, compassionate and practice empathy towards one another. This is not only crucial to counter the mental implications the pandemic has led to, but also to foster collaboration and a sense of community, despite the miles in between. Acing communication in this segment will also empower employees to overcome the question surrounding productivity while working from home, building a self-motivated and high-performing remote workforce.
- Gearing up/ re-emerge (action): Another integral element of communication is re-emerging from the crisis. Conveying both the current status and action plan to sustain both short-term operations as well as the morale within the organization. In times of crisis, employees look up to their leaders to know the next steps and follow the guidelines to not let work and life come to a standstill.
Consistency, transparency and adapting to the situation at hand by modifying people and operational policies, as well as communicating them to the workforce at large is crucial to hold the organization together.
- “The new normal” (Action): Monitoring changes, responding real-time and staying authentic in communication is what’s needed to enable continuity in operations and enable collaboration. The biggest struggle in this time for leaders is to strike a balance between business and people sustainability. How can they do that? How can employees help leaders achieve that? Adaptability, acceptance, agility and a forward-thinking approach. This will help both companies and their employees to sail through the new normal. The only way to do it together is through timely, strategic and effective communication.
Uncertainty and disruption brought on by coronavirus has paralyzed the global economy. With leaders all around the world struggling to safeguard the interest of business as well as ensure employee safety, it is crucial to maintain the connect. It’s time to be agile, leverage available tools and technologies that suit your business and employee needs, embrace the challenges together, work towards building a virtual community, encourage a culture of openness, identify talent that is willing to go the extra mile, and capitalize on the opportunities at hand through an integrated, people-first approach.
For details on how you can leverage workplace tools for effective communication amid crisis, you can view the webinar here.