In this magazine-style episode of the Engaging Internal Comms Podcast, we look at some of the best clips from Series 1 and 2 covering the topics of remote working and change management. Since the podcast began in the midst of lockdown, the pandemic has heavily influenced the conversation, mainly due to its impact on the internal comms profession.
This episode is a chance to reflect on the change it has brought about while demonstrating some of the best practices we have heard for dealing with its effects. Communicators have learned to adapt and shown their worth during this difficult period, while also helping manage the newly found obstacle of maintaining employee engagement through remote methods.
With his organisation specialising in helping businesses get the most out of remote workers, Kevan Hall knows what it takes to engage these types of employees. He has long been a leading expert in this field, and he shared why those looking to implement remote and hybrid methods of working in their company should shift their focus to outcomes. Giving employees an objective to work towards can be hugely effective when it comes to engagement.
In this clip Kevan explained to Craig how working from home was previously seen as a perk, but the necessity of it bought on by the pandemic has changed this perception. This should be the same for measuring employee performance, with outputs not showing the full picture.
Helping give remote employees purpose also plays a big role in engagement levels, but this has been a challenge for many communicators. While heading the DHSC’s internal comms team, Niall oversaw the rapid shift to remote working, and he explained how instilling this purpose helped make this shift easier.
Improving the department’s employees understanding of its ‘Covid Battle Plan’ and the role they had to play in implementing it was a challenge for Niall and his team, especially as most of its workers had always worked on site. He explained to Craig the methods he used to show employees the bigger picture and even the role this had to play in implementing new staff.
One of the fundamental questions that many organisations are still thinking about with regards to remote working is its impact on collaboration and ultimately productivity. Ryan helps organisations assess their employee’s engagement levels and HR practices and he demonstrated some interesting results from the research Hive HR had carried out during the pandemic.
He says that collaboration among colleagues has not been detrimentally affected and that work between different departments has received a boot. From his own experiences, Ryan has traditionally seen this interdepartmental collaboration score low on the surveys he has run, which potentially shows the new opportunities remote working has provided.
Employee communications has played a huge role in how many organisations have dealt with the pandemic. The Chief Executive of the IoIC Jen Sproul told Craig this is something which should not be forgotten, and the value communicators have brought to their organisations should be recognised.
Jen spoke about how internal communications is now more established than ever and those working in it can be viewed more as trusted advisors rather than simply broadcasters. She notes how remote working has had an impact on this and it has allowed communicators to gain the trust of leadership.
Backing up a lot of what Jen said, Lisa spoke about the value a strong internal comms team has brought to many organisations over the last few years. This is particularly the case for a crisis such as the pandemic or any other time there is a major change within an organisation.
Understanding how to manage this change is becoming increasingly important for communicators and as Lisa says, it can allow them to rise through the ranks. Good communication is intrinsically important to making the process of change as easy as possible.
Throughout both podcast series, many communicators have shared some of the best practices around keeping their employees engaged. Kristina revealed some practical tips from her own personal experiences on this, specifically taking about the impact of the pandemic.
She noted how her team’s communications completely changed with regards to things like frequency and style. They opted for more empathetic methods to keep employees motivated, often relying on personal stories to do this.
Tanya was another communicator who explained some of her own innovative methods to get the attention of her organisation’s employees. She described how challenging the pandemic was and how fast she had to adapt to it.
Her view was that it was better to overcommunicate to employees than say nothing, revealing how it led to a complete rethink of her strategies. One innovative method she was proud of was helping make leadership available to employees through daily video calls, which kept them informed during periods of isolation.
As mentioned previously, understanding the mechanics of change management is more important than ever for communicators. Mark Dollins emphasised this speaking off the back of his new book Engaging Employees Through Strategic Communication, which talks about how crucial this will be going forward.
He mentioned how communicators need to act as leaders when it comes to all types of organisational change. They should go further than simply broadcasting these messages to employees and should look to gain a further understanding of this discipline.