Many businesses are struggling to keep their employees engaged and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic as the situation has created several different challenges that they need to overcome.
With many employees finding themselves suddenly working from home, the usual support systems and methods of communication that they are used to in the office environment are gone. This can have a negative impact on business outcomes.
At a time when employees are stressed, anxious and fearful, a lack of clear information can create the perfect breeding ground for rumors to foment. And even if your organization is sending communications to employees, outdated internal communications methods such as relying on emails only could see important information missed, lost or ignored.
Additionally, without having a reliable method of gathering feedback from employees, it can be hard for management to take the pulse of the organization and understand if there are any issues that need to be addressed.
Internal communications: best practices during COVID-19
Whether your entire workforce is working remotely or you have some or all working on site, it’s important that you communicate regularly and effectively with your people.
Both what you communicate, and the ways you communicate it are equally as important at this time. There is a range of information that your employees need to be kept in the loop about, from regularly company updates through to pandemic-specific information on things like safety, work from home protocols and ensuring that everyone is able to still work as part of a cohesive team.
Some of the most common internal communications challenges at this time can be overcome by using DeskAlerts - an internal communications software solution used by companies in different industries around the world to keep their employees informed and engaged - as we can demonstrate below with our internal communications and employee engagement case studies.
1. Establish a ‘single source of truth’
During a crisis, when there is ineffective communication - or no communication at all - the void that is left is quite often filled by rumors, speculation, misinformation and conspiracy theories… and when these take hold, it can be hard to undo the damage that they cause.
Being open and honest with your employees is the first part of the solution here, as is ensuring that you are sending updates in a timely manner so that people aren’t left in the dark or guessing for too long. Not only should you share information from reputable sources such as the WHO or local authorities, but by using internal communications for COVID, your organization should be the main source of information for your employees about your company.
The other part of the solution is ensuring that you are using internal communications channels that cut through the ever-present digital noise and are also reliable enough to reach your employees no matter where they are located or what device they may be working on.
Tools to use
When you use DeskAlerts to communicate with employees you can quickly and easily send messages that they know comes from a reliable source, and you can be sure that the messages have been seen. You can send messages in a variety of ways, and can include HTML links to other information, such as policy documents. You can even send video messages.
For establishing a ‘single source of truth’ use Pop-ups, Screensavers, Wallpapers and Scrolling ticker all together.
‘We use DeskAlerts as a ‘source of truth’ for our employees and send them updates and information on the COVID-19 situation."
2. Send rules, tips and reminders to keep employees healthy
Workplace health and safety both in and out of the office is crucial during the coronavirus pandemic. Without observing best practices such as World Health Organization guidelines on social distancing, and hygiene, cleaning and the use of mask/face coverings, the virus could spread in your workplace and infect many employees.
Every company should have its own set of policies and guidelines about the steps employees need to take whether they are working on-site or working remotely in order to remain safe and healthy.
COVID corporate communications best practice dictates that this information should be communicated to staff regularly so they remember what they need to do.
Tools to use
With DeskAlerts you can create internal communications campaigns around COVID-19 by sending messages in a variety of formats reminding employees what they need to do. Visually appealing displays using graphic, for example, delivered in the form of screensavers, wallpapers and lockscreens can reinforce your hygiene rules.
A COVID employee case study from client: "We use DeskAlerts to send our employees reminders to wash hands, maintain social distancing and so on."
(Manufacturing industry, France)
3. Communicate IT issues and cyber security
IT issues can strike at any time, with little warning. Other times you may plan maintenance and updates. When this happens, your IT help desk could become overwhelmed by many people calling and asking the same information, affecting the team’s productivity.
Cyber security issues are also a major threat for any organization - and even more so when people are working from home and not necessarily using a VPN or a secure network to access your company’s systems.
Keeping employees informed about any outages - both planned and unplanned - as well as any emerging cyber security threats is important for your company’s smooth functioning.
Tools to use
DeskAlerts can be used to communicate these issues with employees via pop-up notifications. You can schedule notifications in advance for planned maintenance. Other functions include lock screens for where there is a threat. Or send reminders about your company’s cyber security protocols via a corporate screensaver or wallpaper that employees will see all day long.
"We normally use DeskAlerts to inform employees about critical service outages for emergency maintenance where action from users is required. We’ve been sing it during the COVID-19 situation to survey our employees about whether they had the equipment needed to work from home."
(International bank, Switzerland)
4. Keep remote employees in the loop
With more and more employees working from home and not in their usual work environments surrounded by managers and colleagues, they can become disengaged and isolated.
This disconnect from the organization can lead to lower productivity as employees aren’t clear on organisational priorities or the best ways to manage working remotely.
You can solve this problem by ensuring you have robust communications systems in place and equip them with the tools to communicate effectively with one another, such as videoconferencing, instant messengers and team sharing platforms, which is beat COVID communications practice.
Similarly it’s important for management and different functions within the organization, for example HR, IT, facilities, security, communications, payroll and so on, to be able to communicate with remote employees during this time - particularly one that is easy to use and can sent messages quickly if something urgent arises.
Tools to use
DeskAlerts can be sent in real time to all employees or custom audiences and can notifications can be delivered straight to employee desktops whether they are on a Windows or Mac computer, or an Apple or Android phone or tablet.
For keeping remote employees in the loop use DeskAlerts cloud solution. Tools such us mobile app, SMS and pop-ups will be especially helpful.
One of our clients says they use the system for HR internal communications during COVID-19: "Half of our team work in the field and we have two remote offices. DeskAlerts is a great way to alert everyone to the same information and we can reach them across all devices at the same time.
(Non-profit sector, Canada)
5. Inform about new policies and receive confirmation of the acknowledgment
During this time of great change and upheaval, companies are having to overhaul various internal policies - or implement many new ones.
This could include working from home protocols, health and safety, a policy about having to wear a mask or even sending a letter that welcomes all employees back to the office after a period of working from home that outlines what must be done to keep safe at work.
With so much information about COVID-19 and its effects on the business, it can be hard for employees to know what’s going on or even where to look for the information.
By sending your employees alert notifications with links to the new policies and protocols using DeskAlerts, you can be sure that your employees have read the important information. As so much of this relates to health and safety, as an employer you have a duty of care to ensure the information has been provided to your employees. DeskAlerts shows management which employees have read the information, and which ones haven’t.
Tools to use
Send pop-ups with acknowledgment, desktop ticker to remind about the new rule and quizzes to check employees' knowledge.
"We use DeskAlerts to notify our people across different platforms such as mobile and desktop about urgent updates, policy changes, emergencies and so on, or to target specific people for training purposes."
(Construction industry, the USA)
It can be difficult to boost employee engagement at the best of times, but with so many people working remotely and in isolation it is even more challenging.
One of the best ways to improve engagement is to find out what employees think about things that are happening in the company, and then implement appropriate solutions if necessary.
How do you know what is really happening and how employees are feeling without asking them? By conducting pulse surveys you can easily find out what the "mood" of he organization is.
Tools to use
DeskAlerts enables you to quickly and easily survey your employees and to see the results in real time, so that you can begin to make any proactive changes you need to make.
"We survey our staff to determine whether they have appropriate working conditions, including proper remote access to company systems, meeting software and personal protective equipment."
(Retail organization, Africa)
There are so many benefits to using DeskAlerts in your organization both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond to improve internal communications and keep your employees in the loop.