Sponsor Insight: How to Embrace the New Normal, Post-COVID-19

It all happened so fast. We heard the stories there were people getting sick and for some of us it felt distant because it was happening on the other side of the world, but for some of us it was happening in our neighborhood. In what felt like just a matter of days, we went from disbelief to social distancing or a total lockdown. Lucky were the companies that had already gone through digital transformation initiatives and had a level of familiarity with digital workplace technologies. In best cases, the companies already had flexible work-from-home policies or dispersed teams to start with. However, no company was prepared to weather the storm without any visible changes to their ways of working.

The effects of the pandemic are here to stay, and the most successful companies are already concentrating on the new normal post COVID-19, where employees expect more flexibility in terms of remote work, digital workplace tools are table stakes, and the ability to respond to cataclysmic changes determine which companies survive the economic volatility and the ongoing war for talent.

Combine internal with external content for maximum impact

In times of crisis like a global pandemic, people rely on their leaders more than ever. With all the uncertainty, a calming leadership presence can help maintain productivity and boost the morale of the entire workforce. Twenty-nine percent of employees say that poor internal communication is the reason why projects fail. What’s more, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were better appreciated.

Interestingly enough, when faced with external pressure, internal communication becomes increasingly important. When it comes to crisis communication, a steady cadence and a single source of truth is important to minimize confusion and to sap rumors or hearsay. Sometimes it is also a good idea to enable content to be shared externally as well, if the content would be beneficial to the employee networks.

With software like Smarp, you can have relevant internal content and external content on the same platform to make it easier for the employees to stay informed and engaged while allowing them to engage their external networks as well.

People are different, they react to crises in different ways and they all have their communication preferences when it comes to channels and formats. Some people like to get instant push notifications on their mobile, some prefer email, and others want to go and proactively read everything they can about it themselves. One of the biggest downsides of traditional intranets is that more often than not everybody gets the same information regardless of their role, location, or professional interests. With modern employee communications tools like Smarp, this is not an issue thanks to advanced personalization capabilities.

To make sure the right people get the right content at the right time, you should mix up your internal communications to include videos and images in addition to links and articles. They say an image tells a thousand words, and sometimes that is all you need. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to have a healthy mix of dynamic content and more static resources in the form of, for example, company-wide polls.

For larger, geographically dispersed or multi-industry companies, it is important to be able to target different audiences with different content depending on the legal requirements and different governmental guidelines for dealing with the pandemic. And as soon as the regulations change, it’s important to be able to instantly notify the affected individuals.

Don’t forget social connection while physically distancing

Social distancing is a commonly used term to describe the measures needed to contain the spread of the virus. However, I much prefer the term physical distancing, as social connection is all the more important in physical isolation. Tools that can facilitate more face to face interaction like video conferencing tools are a no-brainer, but you shouldn’t forget tools and platforms that enable users to contribute and engage with content in other ways. Indeed, having more online meetings with your employees is not the silver bullet to the current situation. Instead, try to engage your employees with different types of content that are easy to consume on the go such as short posts, videos or educational content like infographics.

Because of COVID-19, communicators are busier than ever. Hence the ability to streamline communication workflows is essential. The ability to integrate into the existing infrastructure in terms of content and user management is mandatory if you are looking to get any traction among communication professionals or frontline workers who are tirelessly working despite the pandemic. Smarp’s Content Booster functionality allows you to push content from Smarp to the platforms and channels they are already using and most comfortable with.

Discover insights with advanced analytics

During a pandemic, the ability to measure the impact of your communications is elemental. You need to be able to answer difficult questions like why are my employees in region X not reading our COVID-19-related updates? For this, you need a sophisticated analytics studio that allows you to discover insights and draw connections that you would not have otherwise realized. With Smarp’s advanced analytics, you can do just that.

While it is important to try to minimize the economic impact of the pandemic, the most important work is done on the front lines. We want to do our part and are proud to have partnered with the American Medical Association to help them communicate effectively during the pandemic. If you are interested, have a look at the American Medical Association case study on how they are using Smarp to embrace mobile-first communications in a time of crisis. Thank you—you are the real heroes.

About the author / Mikael Lauharanta is a digital media thinker and speaker and the founder and COO of Smarp. He is on a mission to make internal communicators key strategic stakeholders and has helped create the employee communications category the awareness it deserves. He is a frequent speaker on the topics of employee communications and employee advocacy.

Official World Conference Sponsor/Smarp’s leading employee communications platform helps enterprise businesses transform the way they communicate with their employees, from the office to the front line. Through Smarp, businesses can aggregate, create and distribute relevant content to every employee, while empowering them to amplify select messages externally.

Over 300 companies across the globe, including Amazon, Marriot, Swarovski, Nissan and L’Oréal trust Smarp to align their teams, power organizational initiatives and deliver on the promise of an employee experience that boosts business performance. Visit www.smarp.com.