In times of crisis, uncertainty or confusion within an organization can lead to major obstacles. Clear, regular and thoughtful communication is the antidote to this and really your only option to take charge of the situation.
Over the last few months, a spotlight has been shone on effective internal communications. Thousands of “how-to” articles have been written, and it’s no surprise that “remote working best practices” has shot up as a trending SEO search term.
When a crisis hits, a five-step how-to piece isn’t going to be the solution to all your problems, however. A popular Chinese proverb says: “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.”
Effective internal communication is like a growing tree. It takes a long time of care and nurturing before it grows strong and resilient.
Take an intranet, for example, we can have you up and running in a few days. You will be able to use the storyboard feature to publish the latest news and updates. To have your intranet fully functional and operational to include all relevant policies and documents, collaborative functions and a look and feel true to your organization, however, can take upwards of 30 days.
So yes, there are short-term and quick-fix solutions to ease the blow. But only through long-term dedication will you be ready for whatever crisis hits next.
You must be wondering, what does a fully functional intranet look like and what does that mean for crisis communication? Well, we reached out to a few clients to hear how they have been using their intranet as part of their crisis comms strategy over the past few months …
“We try to put new content on the Storyboard to keep employees informed of new developments. Since the COVID-19 outbreak started becoming worse, we posted recommendations to protect yourself from spreading the virus, information about branch closures, and even a video of how to wash your hands by beloved TV-chef Alton Brown”– Avi Poje, training and education manager, Hughes Federal Credit Union
At its best, an intranet is a hub of information, a central point of contact where employees know they can find any and all answers they might need. This includes relevant company updates as well as more enjoyable content such as videos. After all, the world might be in the midst of a crisis, but that doesn’t you can’t enjoy a laugh with your colleagues. In fact, if there ever was a time for some lightheartedness, it would be now, and an intranet is the perfect place to share both serious and lighter materials.
“Our Intranet has bridged the miles between our employees who are now working remotely across the state. We’ve been connecting socially and sharing personal stories through the News section, using the real-time quick poll feature to gauge employee interest, and even sharing quarantine recipes with one another. Our Intranet has provided us a platform to continue to build upon our ‘office’ culture while no one is in the office”– Brianna Ludwig, deputy state auditor, North Dakota State Auditor’s Office
Strong company culture is linked to resiliency. Crisis communication is not just about sounding the alarm, sending a press release and then business as usual. It’s about consistent and thoughtful engagement. By treating employees as people with feelings, fears, and ideas instead of a mailing list, you enter a powerful relationship with them that affects their productivity and loyalty to you in the long term.
I think we have added more content in the last 30 days than in the last 6 months combined. A lot of staff updates and changes to services, resources for COVID-19, and of course all of our policies, procedures that staff need working remotely. It’s also been the primary way for staff to access our network remotely, and get to all the other web-based tools like training, mileage, etc.
We have also done a lot more fun stuff to keep staff motivated and connected—last week we had a poll on what superpower staff would like to have (time travel was the favorite) and this week our poll is which Harry Potter/Hogwarts house would you belong? So far, Hufflepuff is number one, but we will see …Allison McLain, director of communications and development, Wyandot Behavioural Health Network
According to Tsedal Neeley, professor at Harvard Business School and workplace behavior consultant, water-cooler and cappuccino conversations are an incredibly important part of a workday and have a direct impact on performance. A central spot of discussion, such as an intranet, is a great way to encourage those connections in a virtual space. McLain and her team at Wyandot have even gone a step further by hosting a digital spirit-week, giving employees daily tasks and then sharing the photos and results on the intranet.
Yes it’s important to share important and urgent updates, but don’t forget to leave some space for fun and levity as well.
“Due to the coronavirus, the majority of our back-office staff is working from home, so we are very grateful for an intranet that helps us stay connected with our teams”– Jillian Hitt, director of employee engagement and government affairs, Arizona Federal Credit Union
The current crisis has forced most companies to change operations to remote working. Although there are many studies that suggest remote working leads to increased productivity, it can also lead to isolation if proper employee engagement channels aren’t set up. In our own intranet, Iconic, we use the platform to give colleagues recognition and share relevant updates across departments.
“While the IT group is working from home, our health care workers of course are still in our buildings and rely on our intranet for communications”– Mark Pavitt, director of information services, Maine Veteran’s Homes
Especially in cases where the entire office can’t simply switch to remote operations, a central hub is essential. We follow the philosophy that an intranet should be an organization’s “single source of truth”.
When people are working across different shifts and locations, videoconferencing is not a solution. You need to be able to check-in with one another and share information via one platform (your source of truth). Not only is this incredibly important for effective information-sharing, but also transparency.
Great question! IC Thrive has been in the intranet game for over 20 years. We have a dedicated service team as well as a development team to get you up and keep you running efficiently for years to come. As mentioned before, we can get a basic infrastructure up in a few days to get you communicating as quickly as possible. We’ll also be by your side as you start the big task of populating the system and setting it up to fit your company’s culture.
Step one is to get in touch with us so that we can give you a walkthrough of our system. Book a demo to kickstart the process.