How the world has changed since my last Covid-19 themed blog in March. Since then, we’ve lived through and emerged from lockdown and are now finally returning to the workplace. It’s been a tough few months for everyone, but some more than others have found it particularly challenging.
According to research from The Institute of Leadership & Management, 42 per cent of workers have struggled with isolation since working from home. Similarly, a study by Bupa Health Clinics revealed that 65 per cent feel anxious about returning to the office. This is why good internal communications is such an important tool in effectively supporting people make the transition from dining table to office desk, ensuring they feel listened to and are fully informed.
Of course, it’s not going to be easy and some people will experience a huge amount of trepidation in leaving their familiar, safe home environment and returning to their usual workspaces – albeit looking very different to how they left them in March.
Some people are understandably anxious and overwhelmed. Others are relieved and excited. A few may not want to go back just yet. Some may be upset about being chosen for furlough leave or nervous about their job security. However people are feeling, we’ll all need physical, emotional and mental wellbeing support as we adjust to the new normal, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach isn’t going to cut it.
Maya Angelou once said: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” This sentiment should sit at the heart of internal communications. So, how can businesses use this message to improve how they support staff returning to the workplace?
- Personal – this isn’t a normal situation, so a personal approach is vital in making the team feel valued, safe and supported.
- Reassurance – many staff are anxious about job stability, salaries / wages, pensions and colleagues, so having a robust, sensitive internal communications strategy will help to reassure them about the business and the way forward.
- Delivery – whether it’s face-to-face (virtually or physically) meetings, all-staff emails or notices in communal areas, messages will be received in different ways, so it’s crucial to carefully think about how the message needs to get across and how people may take it. They need to be clear, concise and honest.
- Listen – taking the time to talk with staff will help to understand how they’re feeling, but also give them the chance to suggest new ways of working, which they may not have been able to previously.
- Acknowledge – recognising people’s emotions, wellbeing and personal situations is important as any communications should be tailored to suit and support them.
- Support – taking the time to regularly check in with the team is key, so they feel supported and informed – whether there’s a new update or not.
Angelou’s quote is a good reminder for all communications professionals to always remember the audience. Staff will remember how they were made to feel during the Covid-19 crisis, so don’t forget the power of good internal communications in this very uncertain time.
Pippa Hanson is a senior account manager at Camargue