10 ways to keep your people engaged in a post-lockdown world

 

Our understanding of the way businesses work and the way they need to communicate with their people has changed dramatically over the past few weeks – probably for ever.

 

While many people are, understandably, left feeling punch drunk and confused by the current lockdown, we’re hopeful that the lessons businesses are learning about home working and how to communicate with remote teams will create many positive outcomes when the world finally settles back into a ‘new normal’ rhythm.

Seeing the speed with which businesses are adapting to platforms like ZOOM, Teams and Yammer is encouraging. Virtual pub hangouts, team quizzes and online yoga sessions have already become part of the daily routine and are testament to our adaptability. 

In this dramatically new context, we’ve been revisiting what we see as the fundamental communication principles to keep employees and leaders engaged with business strategy. What will help drive businesses through this difficult time? And what new ways of working and communicating with each other will be most effective?

For every organisation, having a crystal clear purpose is arguably more important now than ever. Many businesses are having to rapidly rethink their strategies in the face of extraordinary change, so clearly communicating your place in the world and why you exist will be vital in keeping your people engaged in what you’re trying to achieve and, more importantly, why you’re doing it. World events may well be making us reconsider whether our purpose is fit for… er, purpose!

Here's our top 10:

Talk the right language to the right people. Clear messages play a critical role in engaging teams in a plan and encouraging the business to pull together and work in a united way to navigate very uncertain times. Be definite, straightforward and transparent. Treat your people like adults and let them find their own communication patterns and styles. 

Carry on cascading. Managing people and teams remotely takes far more time than face to face, so make sure you assign clear communication responsibilities and give team leaders the digital tools to cascade key messages effectively. 

Build online communities. Seed pertinent conversations and encourage online dialogue between diverse teams to create empathy and shared understanding.

This can be fun. Gamification can be the light touch needed to engage people, as well as gathering useful insights.

Choose the right channels. Keep exploring new disruptive channels and platforms alongside the expected. There’s a wealth of apps and tools to experiment with.

Don’t be scary. Hitting the right tone of voice is essential. Be careful with trigger words that can turn off and alienate: ‘transformation’ and ‘innovate’ are powerful words when used in the right context but can also intimidate.

Maintain the dialogue. Don't ‘launch and leave’. Keep up the momentum, have a campaign plan and drop key messages at key times to maintain impetus.

User generated content. Gather content generated by teams on iphones and meme generators to keep conversations alive.

Make it clear and honest. Business strategy is multi-faceted and nuanced, but a well executed, simple and clear tone of voice builds understanding. Make sure you address key questions like: What do I have to do? What will success look like now? and What if this plan fails?

Flexibility as standard. Fixing timescales to plans right now is tough. Hard-wire flexibility into your employee comms while supporting the over-arching purpose. 

 

Find out how our experience and the tools we’ve developed help businesses connect with their communities, both internal and external, and drive successful communication.