Six top tips to help manage internal communications during the coronavirus crisis

Account manager Charlotte Spencer discusses why businesses should be using this time to focus on internal communications and what business leaders should be doing to look after their employees in times of need.

Internal comms during a crisis

As the world adapts to a completely new way of working, with the majority of the country working from home for the foreseeable future, there’s never been a more important time for businesses to assess their internal communication strategies.

Navigating through a crisis requires honest, thoughtful, and strategic communication. The current national emergency has left some employees fearing for their job security, looking for reassurance and support from business leaders and senior members of staff.

As employees adjust to the ‘new normal’ in the midst of the global pandemic, they are turning to their employers to provide clear, transparent and consistent messaging. We’ve put together six top tips on how to communicate this messaging and how best to manage internal communications within your company.

1. Communication is key

Transparency within the business is critical, particularly during unprecedented and challenging times like those we are currently facing. Weekly or even daily updates should be provided from the leader, giving thorough, concise, and clear business information so everyone is on the same page.

Involve all team members in business decisions and processes, such as new business and ensuring precious clients and stakeholders are happy. If staff feel they are part of the team then it can help create a sense of accountability and responsibility.

Insist on regular upward communication, using free project management tools such as Trello, Monday.com and Asana. This can help with productivity, less micro-managing and can also create a culture of trust.

2. Be a leader

Being honest and authentic will go a long way with employees – even if you don’t know all the answers, leaders should tell staff exactly what they do know.

Understand that there will be disruptions and dips in productivity such as looking after children, pets, parcel deliveries etc. Employers need to empathise with individuals and be aware of energy levels throughout the day.

3. Choose the right channel

Choosing the right communication tool can be vital in how your message is portrayed and understood by employees. For example, a quick phone call or a message on communication tools such as Slack may be abetter way of briefing someone than a lengthy video call on Zoom.

Think about the time of day when you are communicating with your employees and when you are going to get the best response. Avoid lunchtime meetings to encourage breaks, limit out of hours calls and emails unless absolutely urgent and set restrictions on the length of meetings and calls to help boost productivity and manage expectations.

4. Listening is crucial

It is important that not only employers communicate to their staff, but also dedicate the time to listen to their employee’s feelings, wants and needs. Regular check ins with staff are essential and employers should pay particular attention to any signs in declining mental health, any changes in usual behaviours or how they interact with colleagues.

Asking an open-ended question is a great way of doing this, as it can provide detailed responses and more in depth answers. Setting up a ‘virtual drop in’ on video conferencing apps such as Zoom at the same time each day will allow staff to use the waiting room function and enables an open door policy.

Questions could include:

  • What is working well for you right now?
  • How can I support you?
  • Work aside, how are you feeling?
  • What are you doing to look after yourself?

5. Keep staff motivated

Understand what keeps your employees motivated and if you do not know, ask the question. Perhaps it is security, comfort and reassurance or maybe it is a higher level of responsibility, accountability and pressure.

Create a sense of belonging in your company to help give employees something to aim for away from the desk.

For example:

  • Friday wine time (a favourite in the Cartwright team!)
  • Pub quiz
  • Dress up Friday
  • Lunchtime yoga club
  • Baking competitions 

6. Help set a routine

Having a lack of routine and structure to daily life can be incredibly challenging and daunting for some people. Enforce strict working hours and communicate to your employees when you expect them to be available, respond quickly to an email and answer the phone.

Encourage employee wellbeing by suggesting a group fitness session, outdoor exercise during a lunch break and suggest standing or walking meetings so everyone isn’t sat at a desk all day long.

The Cartwright Communications team is still – and will remain – open for business. All account teams are on hand to discuss any of the internal communication methods mentioned in this blog. Get in touch with us today.

By Charlotte Spencer

Charlotte supports both consumer and B2B clients, working across food and drink, events, leisure, lifestyle, property and construction sectors securing national and regional coverage. Charlotte has experience in delivering creative campaigns, creating engaging content on social media, managing events as well as copywriting for SEO.