Terms such as “the annual communication plan” have become quite funny after what we have been through in 2020. The pandemic showed no mercy to schedules and plans, tearing them to shreds. Most of the companies we have been working with switched to short-term planning based on possible scenarios, getting ready for those most likely to occur. This approach gave the companies much-needed flexibility in ever-changing conditions.
Such flexibility comes at a price, though. Employees need to know about current events, possible scenarios, and changes. They need to be aware of what is coming next and why. Our experience is that if you explain what you are doing, even a pay cut will be accepted once adequately presented and explained.
With hundreds of employees scattered around regional offices across the country, glitch-free communication was a major challenge, especially between the headquarters and the local branches. The company used a combination of emails, intranet, and video conferencing to communicate with the employees. Also, with a large number of client-facing employees, ever-changing hygiene restrictions posed an additional challenge for the company.
One of the major concerns was determining whether the employees have all the information they need for their work. This chart shows that this was not the case for the entire company. In some units, only 70% of the employees had sufficient information. This needed to be addressed.
The missing pieces of information concerned the just-reworked organizational plans, new rules and regulations, and adjusted job descriptions.
The employees also had a very clear preference about the channel to be used. Email was, by far, the most popular, followed by supervisor (team or one-on-one sessions). Given the complexity of the organization, this made very much sense – every team needed to discuss their unique situation.
The key takeaway for the company’s top management was gaining more insight into the situation and validating their hypotheses. This helped them make informed, evidence-based decisions.
HR gained important insights into the communication process, suggested improvements and the importance of Team Leaders in the entire process. They provided assistance to Team Leaders and helped them spread relevant information around the organization.
The key understanding of the survey was that the Team Leaders needed more (different) information about the situation in order to be able to relay relevant information to their teams. As a result, a brand new communication channel with a dedicated in-person support was created for them.
Arnold is a chatbot-based employee survey tool talking to thousands of employees every week.