By Stéphaine Bernat, VP Marketing and Communications at Cenareo. Passionate about the relationship between employees and corporations, Stéphaine Bernat has worked in marketing and communication in retail environments at an international level before getting interested in the world of SaaS. She is now exploring another aspect of the dialogue between a brand and its audience, whether internal or external, on the challenges of adopting digital communication on screen.
After a turbulent 2020, in a totally new context of crisis and upheaval for every one of us, both in our personal life and as members of a company, some questions have already risen to the surface. What will the company of tomorrow be like? Our expectations, our aspirations and our priorities towards the company will most probably have changed. What roles should companies play for their employees? It is here that internal communications, which have played a leading role for several years, will become even more strategic.
Expanding the primary objectives of internal communications
For several years, it has been the case that internal communications have become a strategic tool for businesses. They are needed for adherence to a corporate vision and business objectives to be achieved together. They are therefore especially useful for raising the level of commitment of the employees and thus enriching the employer brand.
They are even more important at a time when everyone is seeking more meaning in their work, just as, moreover, they are seeking it in their way of consuming. This is even more the case in large groups, sometimes scattered over several sites or in several subsidiaries and in which an employee can quickly feel they are just a number.
To be relevant, an internal communications strategy must guarantee consistency and transparency in its messages. It must also ensure that the communications are made at the right time to the right people to guarantee that the message is received in full and taken in. It is this alchemy which will enhance the employees confidence in their company.
Initiatives which will last
And what was already a necessity before Covid-19, is even more so afterwards.
As this crisis has had a direct impact on our confidence; the confidence that we have in our leaders, in the economy of our country, in our health system, and more directly, the confidence we have in our personal resilience, our immunity and our employer to support us during this crisis.
To get through this crisis successfully, the company must maintain this level of confidence felt by all of its employees, regardless of their situation. Some will continue to commute to work, others will work from home and some will be furloughed.
Given this diversity inside organisations, internal communications are a real challenge. They must guarantee the safety of the employees present, congratulate them and encourage them as well as maintain links and motivate those who are at home.
And despite these very different situations, all of them need genuine communications to maintain their confidence.
To ensure this, companies have multiplied initiatives aimed at their staff, to maintain links and support their most fragile members: video conferences, FAQ prepared on the basis of questions and comments of employees, free phone numbers available 24/7, the sharing of best remote practices between managers, Intranet, online community spaces for dialogue and sharing, etc. For the least digitised companies, the tools revolution has been achieved in just a few days at lightning speed! And employees are using them straight away, much more naturally than if they had been deployed in a normal situation.
Strengthening confidence even more
For the employer there is a necessity to strengthen confidence and the cohesion of employees in a context where home working is becoming a norm. This will involve its ability to continue to communicate effectively, what health precautions need to be adopted. But it will be even more essential to communicate transparently about the results achieved, even if they are lower than may have been hoped for, the consequences of the crisis on the business and a redirection of the strategy to guarantee a more effective recovery. This is to avoid creating grey areas, stop rumours spreading and guard again demotivation.
More than ever, employees will need to be proud of their achievements and those of their company. Internal communications must be the showcase of the actions of solidarity established during the crisis and their continuation in the post-crisis time.
But besides passing on this very top-down information, it will be essential to recognise the achievements of one’s employees: applaud the resilience and adaptability which they have shown.
A necessity which raises the bar in terms of dialogue
Because home working, sometimes non-existent in some organisations before the crisis, is now a usual practice and may become a normal way of working and all the digital tools, adopted massively in 2020, will continue to be widely used.
They will become communication channels and will continue to be used to extend the dialogue created by the employees among themselves and with their managers, to decompartmentalise the departments.
The challenge will then be to no longer limit communications simply to a top-down approach. This digitisation must give the employees the ability to ask questions and receive answers in complete transparency and to assess the internal or external actions put in place. It is also the opportunity for the management teams to organise surveys whose results could be communicated live. On the company’s sites, the mandatory information up to now communicated on paper could be transferred to digital signage, for greater fluidity and repetition of messages to encourage retention. As it will still be essential to pass on the preventive actions to guarantee everyone’s safety.
The role of internal communications will be key and should be prepared right now, taking inspiration from this period rich in exchanges and transparency in the dialogue.
This will involve adopting the same way of working as for external communications: allocating a budget to one’s internal communications in line with the expected results, relying on useful content which conveys meaning, reflecting the DNA and values of the company and adopting an honest and genuine tone.
It is a certainty that the already hazy boundary between internal and external communications will become even less distinct in the post-Covid-19 world. Employees will expect greater transparency, authenticity and engagement from their company, just as customers expect from retailers.
Cenareo offers a digital signage solution to add value to your internal communications’ strategy. Its strength lies in being able to quickly manage displays remotely, collaboratively, as well in the speed of the content updates.