Internal Communication Tips to Help Navigate COVID-19

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Effective internal communication helps ensure employees work collaboratively. It also develops and maintains a unified culture. Internal communications has become a priority during the pandemic as most staff are out of the office. Below are tips to bolster your internal communications:

Make It Easy to Ask Questions, But Know Your Audience 

A significant part of internal communication, of course, is keeping employees informed. With uncertainty a dominant theme at the moment, managers should make it easy for staff to ask questions. Offer an open line of communication–whether  via phone calls, texts, email or video–and make sure employees know about it.

Utilizing the company’s intranet could be a good tactic, especially if there are forums designed for team members to ask questions. Being available to offer explanations can alleviate a lot of stress.

Jaylen Christie

Leaders always should be open to feedback during Q&A sessions. Be aware, though, that large gatherings can lead to difficulties, especially if staffers are unhappy with how the company has reacted to COVID-19. The key here is one of the basics of PR: Know your audience.

Be Mindful of Your Voice

This is a strange and stressful time. When communicating with your team, keep in mind that the pandemic is touching everyone. By now you likely have seen the advice to include empathy in communication. That's good advice. A culture emphasizing compassion inspires an environment where teamwork, trust and respect are dominant.

Consider who you’re addressing, how they may react to the news that you will deliver, and whether they may be preoccupied with non-work issues. Adjust your approach accordingly.

Toward that end, be aware of the tone of your voice. Sometimes we are unaware of tension or frustration that we may be harboring, especially during the pandemic. It can show in your voice. Tone is something that most PR pros are familiar with because it is essential in connecting with an audience. Delivery is everything.

Research shows that tone of voice can be helpful when rousing a team to action. When communicating with a coworker, always be aware of your tone before addressing him or her. It will go a long way.

Cultivate a Positive Company Culture

Providing company updates and news to team members is important during coronavirus--and at all times. At this moment, though, injecting internal communication with fun can help relieve stress. Discover what team members are interested in and care about. Has someone read a good book lately? What are their favorite TV shows and podcasts? Use this information to develop content that supplements the usual company updates.

Be aware, though, to keep communication concise. While this always is good advice, it is especially so now, as employees are dealing with a bevy of issues during coronavirus and their time may be limited.

Zoom Burnout is a Thing

In what has become the new normal, most businesses and corporations are deploying video conferencing for internal communication. One in four Americans have used video calling for work, the PEW Research Center says.  While video certainly has its advantages, it may be a good idea to use it sparingly, such as when meetings require the entire team to attend.

Understand that most PR pros are homebound, spending a lot of time in front of a laptop. Back-to-back Zoom meetings can be a challenge. In addition, digital eye strain is real. The World Economic Forum reports that by the end of 2020, eye strain, along with poor emotional wellbeing, may become a secondary epidemic.

Try different forms of communicating, including Slack or Microsoft Teams. And don't forget phone calls or email, as long as you don’t clutter inboxes.

As it has been said, communication works for those who work at it.

Jaylen Christie is director of PR at Moxē

PRNEWS editor Seth Arenstein contributed to this post