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3 things COVID has taught us about staff communication

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Nikki Thorpe
Nikki Thorpe
5 min read

3 things COVID has taught us about staff communication

If a year of living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that managers and companies cannot over-communicate.

As changes to local lockdowns, a subsequent surge in new channels like click-and-collect and even the furlough scheme were announced and changed the way you and your team did business, communicating with your people and keeping them informed became more important than ever.

So as optimism springs ahead of a strong summer in many European and UK markets and industries, what lessons will communications from COVID teach us for the employee communication expectations and trends of the future?

Companies with poor communication lose good people

Even before COVID-19, quality communication with your staff was an asset for many businesses in attracting and retaining the right staff. And for the companies that got it wrong, the consequences could be costly.

In fact, a 2018 Forbes analysis of a Gallup survey found an enormous 87 per cent of employees were not engaged at work, leading to employee burnout and a higher turnover of staff. It found the main reasons quality talent left a business were all within a company’s control and mostly relate to communication.

However, as with so many parts of life, employees’ thoughts on company communication were also changed by the pandemic.

Those companies which quickly adapted communication strategies and engagement to help address the uncertainty and concern caused by the initial shock of the lockdown and longer-term impacts of restrictions have seen an increase in employee positivity and satisfaction.

As many as 8 in 10 workers believe their company did a good job of supporting them during the past year.

Nikki Thorpe, Planday’s Director of People & Culture, says changing the way you support and communicate with staff during COVID has also helped businesses retain good talent.

“We all know it’s been a challenge to support staff in the usual way, but adapting the way you support and engage with your team has been vital to make sure you keep your best asset,” Nikki says.

“Changing the way you support your team – whether that’s in working from home, keeping in touch with furloughed staff or changes in schedules for shift workers, these are the things that have helped people feel supported and ultimately perform better during the pandemic.

“Looking forward, there are many ways we support and engage with staff including mental health support and this will inevitably increase employee satisfaction too.

“There are many ways to support staff, such as changing a rota to assist extra flexibility for staff with school-aged children, or respecting employee’s different working from home schedules and providing advance notification of shift changes or upcoming priorities.”

Keep in touch, even when you don’t have the full picture

Nikki says the lessons learned about adaptability and flexibility will still be important going forward.

“Over the last year, many of us have learned to work and interact in new ways. And a lot of that will change the expectations of our staff and our customers as we either re-open businesses and start to schedule staff again or head back into the office,” Nikki says.

“That includes the way that we stay in touch with staff.

“We all have a lived experience that things can change in an instant and that it may take time for a complete picture of what’s happening to come clear. The good part of communicating with people about changes in your business during COVID has been the need for speed.

“If a big change is coming – or even little things like the way you check in hotel guests using digital tools or increasing capacity for visitors in a care home as most of your residents are vaccinated – then keeping your people informed and up to date is essential. Even if you don’t have the complete picture yet.

“People appreciate being informed and the quality of levels of staff engagement, trust and retention will follow.”

Employees expect a digital-first comms experience

Nikki reckons the pandemic has changed the pace of employee communications forever.

“When you are being instructed to shut the business from midnight and there’s hundreds – or even more – people whose shifts tomorrow and the day after are affected, you just don’t have time for inefficient communication,” Nikki says.

“As business leaders, we saw that the pace of communication can also set the tone for how your business adapts and responds to changes in the market.

“Sometimes you just don’t have the luxury of searching for the right email address, checking that the right people are in the group chat or even that you have the right number for your casual or seasonal staff that you might go a while without contacting.

“Your people expect a digital-first comms experience. And when you need to do it quickly it really pays to have a tool that everyone can access and where everyone’s details are correct.

“It not only means you can know you have got the message to the right people, but your people have a clear and efficient way of getting in touch with you so that it’s a genuine conversation with staff rather than an instruction.

“Outside of the context of COVID, this can also help for messages like changes in the way your operations work, staff training or – most importantly – covering a shift quickly, when your business really needs it.

“Using outdated or inefficient methods only harms your ability to get the message to the right people at the right time. And – if COVID has taught us anything – sometimes that’s more important than we ever imagined.”

Planday update powers efficient comms to the right people

As we gradually approach markets reopening in Europe and the UK, the number of messages sent in Planday has started to increase. It’s a simple, easy-to-use and efficient way to make sure your message gets to the right people at the right time.

No more messages lost in a group chat. No more being left on read when you really need an answer. Planday’s communications feature helps make your day work.

And a series of recent updates means this is now an even more powerful partner for you and your staff. Whether it’s being able to read, send, receive and forward messages from your colleagues and employees or start or reply in group threads, Planday is the one comms tool for efficient staff messaging no matter what your business does.

But when you really need to make sure someone has your message, Planday lets you see a list of who has opened or hasn’t opened your message yet, as well as require a reply to your message or be notified when one is expected from you.

You can also attach a file or picture to a message and can communicate through the Planday app in a similar way you would from the web version. So if you need a simpler and more effective way to assign tasks such as inventory, update files about your business’ procedures for social distancing and other restrictions or need to share any sort of business news, you can do it all in the app and make sure your message always gets to the right person.

For more on what the updates to the Planday communications feature can mean for your business, head over to the Help Centre.

Ready to make your communication work?

Are you ready to improve your staff communications after COVID? Book your personalised demo and see the business benefits of getting your message to the right people at the right time.

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