While the pandemic continues and waves of increased infection rates are still occurring, many people have shifted to getting on with their lives and business. We’ve navigated the many shifts caused by the pandemic for almost two and a half years, and it’s time for our communication strategies to reflect where we are now.
One of the things we’ve heard lately from employees is that they feel disconnected and communication from their employers is lacking. Early in the pandemic, there was a natural shift into survival mode. Everyone carried the weight of doing what needed to be done to stay operational. In doing so, many organizations lost sight of the importance of communicating with employees about things other than health and safety protocols. Now is the time to refocus on this critical interaction.
Take a look back at what communication was like before COVID-19. What did you have in place that was dropped during the pandemic? Look specifically at communication that provides feedback on job performance, such as annual reviews, goal setting, and standup meetings. These lines of communication help an employee determine where they are excelling and where they need to step up. Many companies pulled back from such things while in survival mode, but now employees are asking for them to return so they can have a roadmap for their job.
Next, consider what feedback loops you have as a company and how they have been impacted by the pandemic. When an employee has an issue or concern, are they able to communicate that concern and find solutions? If your workforce shifted from primarily in-office to more hybrid or fully remote, have you communicated what opportunities exist for feedback loops with supervisors and other members of management?
The final area to keep in mind is employee social activities. Have you restarted birthday lunches, happy hours, or appreciation events for reaching goals? These help the employees connect to each other and to the company, which ties them into the company culture. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all employees will be comfortable with in-person events still, especially if they or someone in their family classifies as high risk for complications from COVID-19. As you think about social activities, consider options for in-person and virtual connection to ensure all employees have some opportunity to connect with their coworkers.
As with most things in life, work looks different than it did before the pandemic. Although we’ve transitioned out of the height of the crisis, our work life has changed. One of the biggest changes in many companies is a workforce that is partially or fully remote. Those companies need to consider what the above-mentioned pieces of communication look like from the perspective of a remote employee. Perhaps some of your practices need to be reimagined to better serve the new structure of the company.
Whether communication with employees fell to the bottom of the priority list during the pandemic or it never was much of a priority, one thing’s for sure: companies that neglect communication leave themselves open to employees who are disconnected, unclear on where their career is heading, and ready to walk out the door. It’s time to prioritize communicating with our employees before we start losing them to companies that do.
If you need help with restarting your annual review process, creating and communicating feedback loops, or strengthening your company culture, reach out to the WhyHR team to discuss how we can help.