Internal communications in times of a pandemic: What should be pursued, implemented, halted and monitored?

According to a recent PwC survey, maintaining productivity is currently a challenge for 45% of employees in Canada.  Lack of collaboration (39%) and communication (45%) between teams create additional issues. In terms of mental health, the figures highlight a real cause for concern. One out of three Quebecers is said to be on the verge of exhaustion.

For company management and communications departments, the evidence is clear: the issues of isolation, motivation and productivity are not going away any day soon.

While significant efforts have been made in recent months to improve internal communication campaigns, some questions are being asked. For example: should these communication campaigns be re-launched? Should we change our tone? Should we communicate more often?

To help you navigate these questions and help guide you forward, CASACOM presents:


What to pursue

1.  Use a reassuring tone, be a good listener

At the height of the crisis in early 2020, communications were frequent and formal. During the summer however, the loosening of health measures led to a change in the tone and frequency of communications. Going forward, it is vital to maintain both a reassuring tone and a state of constant listening.

2. Health and safety at the top of the priority list.

While the severity of the pandemic has fluctuated since the beginning, its impact on people’s mental health and well-being has remained constant. To ensure the ongoing trust and commitment of your employees, their health and safety, both physical and mental, must remain your top priority and as such be reflected in your communications.

3. Measuring employee morale and commitment on an ongoing basis.

Surveying remains the most effective tool to gauge the mental state of your employees. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. By frequently taking the pulse of your workers, you will get a portrait of their psychological state and be able to measure their commitment: a satisfied employee is a committed employee.


What needs to be implemented

1.  Focus on employees’ well-being using multiple touch-points.

Responsibility for employee well-being and development typically resides with the human resources team. In times of crisis however, why not expand the number of people committed to employee engagement by creating various employee-led committees (e.g. fitness, social, celebration)?

2. Strengthen the corporate culture.

Employee engagement and employee satisfaction are the foundations to any corporate culture. It is important to continue to create opportunities to strengthen the bonds of solidarity between employees, through training, team meetings, celebrations, etc. A cohesive and engaged employee population will emerge a winner from this crisis.

3. Respond with creativity to health rules.

Faced with the public health directives which prohibit large gatherings, no longer are we able to gather for team lunches or celebrations in a manner we did before the pandemic. However, we can’t stop paying tribute or recognizing those happy occasions that mean so much to employees. We need to be creative and work around the restrictions. To mark birthdays, why not ask employees to send greetings by video? If a colleague lives alone, can someone drop by for a social/physical distanced visit?


What needs to stop

1.  Too many communications channels.

According to a survey conducted by Atlassian, 77% of respondents revealed that they waste time with the management of multiple different communication tools (email, Zoom, SMS, Slack, or other platforms). Moreover, teleworking requires more management and coordination. Even if there are good intentions at the outset, an overabundance of communication channels can lead to frustration.

2. Not giving up on tools and channels that do not work.

Your tools and channels are not meeting the expectations? It is time to consider another approach.

3. Relying solely on productivity as an indicator of success.

A key principle of crisis management is never to lose sight of the human aspect and the well-being of your employees. A happy employee is, in most cases, more productive.


What to look out for

1.  Do not neglect any group of employees.

Employees experience a crisis differently depending on the realities of the challenges of their individual roles. Do you have employees in the office, in a factory and at home teleworking? Rely on personalized approaches to understand each groups reality and, above all, be careful not to neglect any one group’s situation.

2. Finding a balance between formal and informal communication.

31% of respondents (Atlassian survey) report having fewer informal conversations with colleagues. Informal calls and video conferencing are necessary to decompress and replicate the discussion around the coffee machine. But don’t forget to take the time to formally discuss wellness and the current situation with employees.

3. The loss of rhythm.

A loss of rhythm in communication can be perceived as slackening. A constant pace and frequency is required to reassure employees. Are you afraid of discouraging them by communicating too much? Send out a survey and ask their opinion on the quality and frequency of communications. They will tell you the truth.


Do you have questions about your internal communications strategy and activities? Contact our team to continue the conversation.

Mathilde St-Vincent About the author
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