Internal Communications in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has pushed us to a corner and forced us to rethink every aspect of our lives. The
global economy is crashing, companies are losing business and people are losing jobs. As
public health systems across the globe continue to put up a brave fight against the deadly
virus, the global workforce continues to work from home and respect social distancing
guidelines to help restrict the spread.
In this unprecedented situation, people can end up feeling helpless and confined. It would
therefore be extremely important for organisations to focus on their internal
communications, to empathise with their employees, give them hope and strength, and stay
connected. Organisations would need their leaders and managers to reconsider business goals and help employees cope with the new ways of working and day-to-day operational
To ensure that businesses run smoothly, internal communications teams must enable effective cross-departmental collaboration, ensure flawless communication, empower and engage employees, and safeguard employee wellness.
Analyse employee sentiments
Gauging the employee pulse in a time when most are working remotely could help you get
valuable insights. Facilitate pulse surveys and use their inputs and feedback to fine tune your
messaging, wherever required. You can also get an understanding of the content consumption patterns and focus more on the types of communications that your employees seem more interested in.
Prioritise employee well-being
As leaders and managers, it is extremely important to remember that your people are your
greatest assets. In a calamitous situation, as the one we are in now, an organisation must
think of its employees first. With budget cuts, it is understandably tough to acquire, retain
and manage talent but to deal with the pressure situations, enterprises must adapt to the
change rapidly. Identify alternate work-arounds, see if you can help them make their work
from home arrangements better. Remember that the health and safety of your employees is
paramount, and arranging employee support programs will help safeguard their well-being.
The time to lead from the front is now!
This is certainly not an easy time for leaders and people managers. There are some tough
calls that have to be taken and some difficult messages that have to be conveyed. It would
only be human to want to restrict communication. However, given the circumstances, you
have to push yourselves to do the opposite. Lead your teams more empathetically, talk to
them more often and most importantly, be patient. The mental well-being of employees is
largely dependent on their leaders and managers, and that’s why you must step up, make
yourself available and listen to your team members. Don’t limit your conversations to COVID-
19 or critical issues; instead, convey a sense of organisational security.
Formulate a robust internal communications plan
Here are a few things that you should take into account for building a well-rounded plan:
Ensure that you respond to emerging issues and manage the escalations well (if any)
Any key information about the organisation must be passed on by the internal communications team and not any external source
Employ all possible communication channels and make your employees aware of them
Plan such that leaders and managers can communicate effectively, clearly and transparently
Pass on important topical information from credible sources, such as updates from World Health Organisation (WHO), in a timely manner
Keep your employees up-to-date about any changes to the organisation’s COVID-19 policies
Be sensitive to local situations and circumstances — they will vary across geographies
According to 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 71% of employees wanted their employers
and CEOs to respond during challenging times.
Irrespective of the size of an organisation, a well-articulated and structured internal
communications strategy is critical. In times of uncertainty such as now, it will help maintain
a steady flow of information from one unified source. It will also help employees stay
connected with their organisation, give employers the opportunity to gain the trust of the
workforce, and show that they care.
As the pandemic situation continues to change, varying in levels of complexity, internal
communications teams must monitor and review their strategies regularly and maintain strong
correspondence with their employees. Thus, providing organisational support in every possible manner.