COVID-19 Comms, Charles Darwin, and Ridiculous Amounts of Amazon Prime Deliveries
There’s no “new normal” for internal communications.
I’m sure you’re wondering what the %@# does Charles Darwin have to do with my company and me? Well, think back to 6th-grade science class when you learned a little theory called natural selection. If not, I’ll save you a Google search.
In short, as the world changes around us, species must evolve in order to survive.
The world has clearly changed around us. COVID-19 is forcing companies to re-think their relationship with employees.
I speak to internal communicators at some of the biggest companies in the world on a weekly basis. I start each call with, “Have you settled into your new normal yet?”
The answer, across the board, is no. The future is still very uncertain. But, don’t take my word for it – I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines:
- “Twitter says staff can continue to work from home permanently”
- “Google Will Let Employees Work From Home Until The End Of 2020”
- “Salesforce will let employees work from home for the rest of the year, even after offices have reopened”
- “Square announces permanent work-from-home policy”
There’s no end in sight. We don’t know when, or if, we’ll EVER return to “normal”.
Whether it lasts for an additional six months or six years, there’s something to be sure of. We must evolve how we think about communicating with our employees in a post-COVID world.
Evolving your internal communications strategies
We know that face-to-face interactions will be replaced with more virtual communications, but some IC assets will no longer be applicable. Touchpoints like digital or print signage are lost assets. It’d be super creepy if I were brewing my morning coffee, staring directly at a stock photo-esque health initiative poster.
While we’ve eliminated employee commute times, the office walls which have historically separated our personal and professional lives are gone.
No extracurriculars or playdates for the kids to get to. Eardrum bursting-level dog barks every time the Amazon Prime delivery person rolls up. Make-shift kitchen table workspaces instead of workspaces designed for productivity. Employee attention spans are at an all-time premium.
Modernizing how organizations communicate with their employees is no longer optional. The good news is as internal communicators, you’ve never been in a better position to impart change within your organization.
Leadership has noticed the importance of your team’s work and are ready to listen. Soon, the opportunity to climb out from under the COVID-19 tactical work and position yourself as the strategist you know you are will present itself.
When you’re thinking about your strategy to solidify your internal comms infrastructure, please, please take advantage of this opportunity to think more broadly. Don’t dedicate your time and resources to just making a single channel better. I want to paint a picture for you, and then I’ll explain how to get to that vision.
Creating a holistic employee experience
Imagine a future where…
- You can target the right message to the right person or segment in the channel of their choice. All of your important information that needs to be seen is automatically highlighted for each employee.
- Your content is one click away from being distributed across your organizational channels. No matter how many channels you continue to add to your tool belt.
Sounds amazing, right? You’re not as far away as you think. How do you get there?
- Meet with IT and HR: If your employee data is a mess, you’ll never be able to target communication accurately. This is the foundation of all communications – it has to be clean, and processes have to be put into place that minimizes the data from getting dirty in the future.
- Meet with IT (again): What’s the process for building distribution lists? Is that serving as a bottleneck for your communications? Why can’t you create your audiences? Now is the time to question and push back on “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
- Technology: I’m a technologist, and I live to find ways to make people’s lives easier using technology. You’ll be shocked at what’s available for internal communications now. I would be willing to wager a 12 pack of toilet paper that it’s more sophisticated than anything your marketing team is using.
- Return On Investment (ROI): Even with your elevated role in the organization, thanks to COVID-19, you still need to prove to leadership that you’re making fiscally responsible decisions that will ultimately drive value to your organization.
You’ve been buried for the past few months, but now you have the opportunity to start navigating toward your department’s future state. Don’t let your team struggle to keep up with tactical work.
As Darwin said, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise prevailed.” Process and strategic innovation will soon be top of mind for large organizations. Your HR and IT business partners have been scrambling, too, and want to help make change happen. It’s time for internal communications to evolve so that it can meet the needs of the new temporary and permanent mobile workforce.
We’re not monkeys anymore, and we’ll never stop evolving as long as the world keeps changing. Why shouldn’t how we interact with our employees evolve as well?