Effective internal comms during COVID-19 could be the difference between success or failure

At the beginning of March, when I touched down at Heathrow after an incredible holiday in New Zealand, my role was evenly split between external and internal comms.

Effective internal communications could make all the difference to the long-term survival of organisations, argues Dan Walsh
Effective internal communications could make all the difference to the long-term survival of organisations, argues Dan Walsh

Two weeks later, in the space of 24 hours, my role switched entirely to internal comms.

The world watched in horror as businesses closed, employees were forced to work from home, were furloughed or, worst of all, made redundant, and in a matter of days the world had changed.

Over the course of the next four weeks I realised just how important internal comms are to the ongoing operation of an organisation and how much organisations that overlooked a robust internal comms strategy would suffer, in both the short and long term.

Internal comms is so often misunderstood, neglected or, in the worst case, completely ignored by organisations, and is such an important tool for an effective operation.

For smaller businesses and organisations, internal comms may well be relatively straightforward but it is nonetheless vital.

As businesses grow, internal comms becomes a business-critical strand of activity that needs to be carefully planned.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it unprecedented situations and thrust everyone into often completely alien environments. During this time of crisis, effective internal comms is more important than ever.

The successful businesses will be the ones that recognise their staff are their most valuable asset and put in place processes, measures and lines of communication to protect them.

A robust internal comms strategy is vital to provide employees with the appropriate reassurance around subjects like jobs, wages, business stability and wellbeing, among many other things.

Proper internal comms will ensure that employees have the right tools to cope with a whole new way of working alongside coping mechanism for long periods of isolation.

Effective internal comms can go even further than that, ensuring staff feel empowered to autonomously get on and do their jobs, and even excel at them.

And it’s not just about businesses’ duty of care to their employees.

Effective internal comms will mean staff will feel more reassured, more supported and much less anxious.

Employees who feel supported by a business that cares about them will be more loyal, more committed and will make the effort to be more productive and support the business in return.

Effective and robust internal comms are not just the domain of business, either.

Governments of the day will be judged in the future by the effectiveness of their internal comms with the citizens of their countries.

Just look at the chasm between the internal comms being deployed by the various factions of the US authorities and the outpouring of praise for Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand.

The businesses, organisations and governments that get their internal comms right during this time of crisis will inevitably emerge from it with stronger support than ever before.

Dan Walsh is head of communications for Sky Creative Agency

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