When the pandemic hit, leadership teams figured out really quickly that effective communication was essential to business continuity and helping employees through the transition to the new reality.
Part of why companies were so successful during the early days of the pandemic is because communications were hugely focused; what wasn’t critical was stopped to make way for the most important communication about the business and plans for the pandemic. Leadership communication was purposeful and relevant, and therefore, positively influenced engagement, including on critical topics like the safety and well-being of employees.
For as much as has changed in the past 19 months, in some ways little has changed. Organizations and employees are still going through tremendous change and the communications team, working closely with leaders, will continue to be essential to leading employees through the change to the new reality. They need to remain focused and resourced as such.
Staying Focused on Engagement
Here are five proven approaches communications teams and leaders can use to help improve employee engagement as we adapt to the new reality:
- Connect employees to purpose: Help employees understand the vision and strategy for the organization – where it’s going and, importantly, where their work fits in. Equip managers and supervisors to interpret and reinforce this line of sight at the team and individual level and have the important conversations about finding the right balance between company goals and employee preferences.
- Listen actively and respond to employee concerns: Ensure that leaders and managers ask about employee needs and take action to address their concerns. This includes checking in with employees and active listening in 1:1 conversations, establishing and monitoring feedback channels at the organizational level, and circling back with responses to employees’ questions and needs.
- Build trust with consistent, transparent communication: Tell employees what you know, when you know it, especially when your organization is going through change. Recognize they want to know what is happening and why – they need the context. Ensuring a cadence of frequent updates and conversations where they can ask questions helps them feel included and confident they will be kept in the loop on important decisions.
- Show employees you appreciate them: Recognize your employees for jobs well done whenever you have the opportunity. In these challenging times, your encouraging words can make a difference in someone’s day and motivate them to stay engaged. Provide individualized recognition when possible and pay special attention to the behaviors you want them to continue, or new ways of working you want to encourage in times of change.
- Be accountable for communication in support of well-being: Know that your organization will perform and retain people better when your employees are connected to purpose, feel content and appreciated, and believe you care about them. Leaders must take their role seriously in building positive relationships and earning employee trust—by listening to employee needs, responding to their concerns and communicating effectively.
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