Life has changed unimaginably in the past few months. Ways of working have been upended and lines of communication disrupted. Businesses are settling into new rhythms, as colleagues, customers, and citizens collectively accept that “normal” no longer exists.
In the unprecedented times of COVID-19, connection has never been more important. As a business, you not only need to be the voice of reassurance for your customers, but for your employees too. They’re feeling the impact of this new uncertain world first-hand, and that gives you a unique opportunity to support them while strengthening your connection.
It’s time to look to the heart of your organization’s ethos and put your purpose and values into practice.
Do it mindfully
Now more than ever, the focus is on leaders. While this is uncharted territory for everyone, your colleagues are out there navigating this new world from their home-working stations alone—and that can feel like an isolated place to be. The direction and clarity you give them now will be critical to how you move forward.
But how do you respond to a situation that challenges communication as we know it? It starts with understanding your colleagues and interacting with them more mindfully—reaching out consciously, consistently, and with clarity.
That means open lines of communication across the business—keeping colleagues aware of what’s happening at every level, offering comfort where possible, and giving clear direction on what you expect.
As new ways of collaborating continually develop, you might see grey areas open around how, what, and when to connect. Avoid them by laying out exactly the types of messages colleagues should share, the platforms they can use, the people they can reach out to, and how often they should do it. You’ll begin to establish normality— laying the foundation for truly inclusive communication.
Engaged employees have a huge impact on your business and will play a critical part in how quickly you recover from this crisis. At ICF Next, we focus on maximizing connections inside organizations—building powerful, joined-up cultures where colleagues become activists for their companies.
The current climate opens a unique opportunity to catalyze that sense of union—to let go of old ways of working and adjust to the new situation collectively. Your colleagues need your leadership now more than ever, and by taking them on a journey with you, you can make sure they get the guidance, inspiration, and connection they need, without losing focus on driving results for your business.
Be proactive with your audience. Reach out to them and find out how they’re really feeling, all the while staying human—using this shared experience to draw the workforce together with genuine and personal stories.
Studies show that almost three quarters of employees want to be involved in future planning, making now the time to build a productive environment that will drive your organization’s long-term success. Challenge colleagues to come up with improved ways of working or creative solutions to problems you’ve not had time to address. Trusting your workforce with the future of your business will not only reassure them, but drive advocacy too.
With face-to-face communication currently not an option, virtual platforms are key to creating the moments of participation and togetherness needed to move audiences.
Whether it's multi-user calling with Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams, or participative working on Adobe Connect or MURAL, there are powerful ways to tailor creative ideation to work flexibly, remotely, and in the right ways to engage your business.
Right now, organizations have an opportunity to broaden their reach and open up a new landscape for teamworking. Without barriers like distance and time, you can bring new faces, perspectives, and ideas to the conversation more easily. And as connections spark fresh thinking and inclusive collaboration, your whole business will move towards more meaningful and agile ways of working.
It takes expertise and knowledge across the spectrum of communication to equip leaders with messages that create impact, break down siloes, and build relationships. Now more than ever, you need campaign plans, narratives, creative concepts, toolkits, and activations designed to cut through organizational noise and drive lasting results—even in the most unprecedented of times.
Great data, great results
The current crisis throws multiple factors into bewildering uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean you should lose track of your colleagues. Insights about everything from how they’re feeling to how they’re managing their workload can help drive a culture of togetherness that really means something to your people.
Data and analytics form part of an infinite feedback loop that enables internal and external conversations to stay on point and evolve in the right ways. Gathering the right insights can help you gear every action and process towards emotional, innovative, and measurable results—and the present moment makes this element of colleague engagement more crucial.
The best solutions combine data science and strategy to drive human connections between brands and every segment of their audience. And time and time again, we see that understanding and connecting with employees leads to results with customers too.
Finding new ways to communicate brings benefits beyond simply keeping your business connected—it creates a whole new energy. Standing out in this new world demands big ideas and creative thinking. Businesses must adapt fast, learn faster, and get smart with communication to stay ahead.
Podcasts, Netflix-inspired series, seasonal and real-time content, Instagram-able clips, and social media stories—what can your organization do to create live, evolving content? How can you move together as a team to thrive amid the biggest challenge of a lifetime?
At ICF Next, we champion this agile, inclusive approach to ideation, creating the kind of campaigning architectures that allow entire organizations to react and mobilize quickly and effectively.
But at the heart of it all, it’s always people. Use the challenge we face to bring your people closer together. React quickly, speak out boldly, and don’t be afraid to lead the way. The world is watching, and the potential is yours to unlock.