How important is internal communication for organizations in the overall strategy and response to COVID-19? We’d argue that for your employer brand, it’s make-or-break.
We know from history that in difficult times, strong yet empathetic leadership is crucial, and arguably the most critical factor to navigating seas of change. In these times of uncertainty, it is your role as a leader to make people-centric decisions today that won’t hinder your businesses post-pandemic, or damage your employer brand.
The Employer Brand
First, let’s start with what exactly an employer brand is: Simply put, an employer brand is how you’re viewed as an employer. It is the impression you leave on former, current, and future employees. A positive employer brand is critical, especially in today’s increasingly competitive job market.
Not investing in your employer brand can be costly and be seen affecting things like cost-per-hire, your HR budget, and overall bottom line. In challenging times, your culture and employer brand are vulnerable, and how you handle internal communication during the pandemic and how you engage with your staff could pay dividends in the future or be a pain-point for years to come.
Hardships, while uncomfortable, often reveal character, and this is as true for organizations as it is for individuals. What can you put in place for your organization to ensure your employer brand weathers this storm and comes out relatively unscathed on the other side?
Leadership and Internal Communication
Don’t underestimate the power of your voice. Leaders provide a figurehead for the organization, inspiring employees to focus and succeed despite the obstacles and should be where communication to your employees comes from in these difficult times. Leaders that embody the values of the business and empathize with their employees will be better equipped to survive the disruption and maintain a positive employer brand post-pandemic.
Leadership in organizations need to be widely visible and accessible. With the added hurdle of many companies now remote working, visibility is easier said than done, but not impossible.
Digital communication can still work wonders, and there are lots of options:
• Connect with staff through scheduled team meetings
• Set up anonymous surveys for staff to air their concerns & ask questions
• Share video Q&As from your CEO and Senior Management
Emails should be a last resort, as everyone knows how they can be misinterpreted and often lack authenticity and emotional resonance (even when you add in the cream-of-the-crop memes). If you can’t be there in person, be everywhere digitally.
In a world where what was advisable a week ago likely isn’t today, having a constant in a sea of change is critical; Be that constant in your employees’ lives. It doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly, but it does need to be proactive, consistent, and considerate to meet the bespoke needs of your organization’s employees.
Here at Nova, we have a daily team meeting, even if it only runs for 5 minutes to ensure there is an open platform for the staff to speak about anything – as we have a team of only six people, this is manageable for us. For a larger organization, consider having a weekly update of relevant policy changes, good news, and answers to any questions staff may have had throughout the week.
Listen, Listen, Listen
As the saying goes: Communication is a two-way street. To fully take a people-centric approach to internal communication, you need to know what exactly your people want to know and what they need from you.
Not sure how to make this work? Consider an anonymous survey and address frequently asked questions that can be sent around to the staff regularly in reaction to surveys. WorkTango recently released some suggestions of questions to use when compiling these surveys that are really helpful.
Employee engagement surveys are a norm for Nova, but now they are taking on a whole new level of meaning. By utilizing anonymous surveys, senior management has their finger on the pulse of the company and can address the issues that matter to our people the most.
The Power of Authenticity
Authenticity and honesty are what your employees are looking for in times like these. Where possible, explain the reasoning behind decisions that the company is making (especially the uncomfortable ones) and the ‘why’ behind those decisions.
“How are your actions today going to benefit your organization, people, and culture in the long term?” Answer that question, and you will inherently win the trust and respect of your people. Show empathy for your employees and make them a priority; after all, you need them to drive your organization forward today and tomorrow.
The Key Takeaway?
Internal communication is one of the main drivers of employee engagement in normal circumstances; In the current era of COVID-19, internal communications may fuel your organization’s reputation as an employer for the months and years to come. How do you want to be remembered, and are you prepared?
Louise Reed’s HR career has spanned over 19 years – she has recently celebrated 10 years here in Cayman where she originally moved over to join our sister agency CML Recruitment before founding Nova in 2017. Here in the Nova office, Lou focuses on creating purpose, elevating our values, cultivating career passion and buying the office snacks (which consists mainly of chocolate).
For more insight on employer brand, recruitment strategy or HR in Cayman feel free to reach out to Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org