12 Posts of Christmas: Reflecting on a Challenging Year for Internal Communications

12 Posts of Christmas: Reflecting on a Challenging Year for Internal Communications

Last updated on August 24, 2021 at 01:45 pm

2020 has been quite a year. While we’ve all experienced personal and professional challenges this year, we’ve also learned a lot about improving internal communications. We’ve changed often for the better. And for better or worse, things will never be the same. So, we thought it was fitting to celebrate and share the story of our 2020 with twelve pieces of content that we created over the year—the 12 Posts of Christmas.

Day 1: What Really Matters in Internal Communications 2020

Nick Gerardi (left), Amy Jenkins, and Amanda Fisher at ALI’s 7th Annual Strategic Internal Communications Conference in 2020.

We published this blog on February 26th. COVID-19 was in the news but wouldn’t rock the United States for several more weeks. And one of our teammates, Amanda Fisher, went to ALI’s 7th Annual Strategic Internal Communications Conference in San Francisco. And after a great conference, we came back invigorated and with all of these ideas about how to rock your 2020 internal communications strategy. 

While the title now is somewhat comical—we had no idea what would really matter in 2020—the points in the blog still ring true, if not in a slightly different way. 

  1. Measurement Matters. This one is always 100% true. But being able to measure the results of your crisis campaigns rather than your engagement campaign kind of have a different gravity to them.
  2. Time is money. Specifically, time saved is money. Never has a year illustrated more the importance of agility, teamwork, and the ability to communicate efficiently. 
  3. Values are changing. I mean, this is almost prophetic now. Companies were already focusing more on their employee community. And I think this, the focus on employee wellbeing, and concern over employee morale has truly become some of the most important things to business leaders this year.

Content needs to be both fast and high quality. Again, we had no idea how true this would be this year. But it’s true. When you’re communicating about crisis, civil unrest, DEI, benefits, and anything that impacts the lives of your people outside of work, you have to be impeccable with your word and not leave employees waiting.

 

Day 2: Amidst COVID-19 Crisis, theEMPLOYEEapp Clients See Surge in Employee App Use

We published this blog on March 20th, just days after going into lockdown in the United States. As I’m sure you all vividly recall, this was a very stressful time for communicators. And a very stressful time for frontline workers. Which is why we saw a historic spike in app use at the start of the pandemic. Our clients were lucky to already have mobile internal communication apps in place to reach remote and deskless employees. And those workers were able to find everything they needed right on their app.

 

Day 3: Client Case Studies

In spite of the challenges this year, we had so many clients rise above and really shine. And never has amazing internal communication, employee engagement, and leadership communication been more important.

Waupaca Foundry: “For the first time in our organization’s history, we were able to ensure that every employee that chooses to have the app on their phone receives a piece of information at the same time that their peer does. We have leveled the playing field. Everyone has access. And we couldn’t have done that without the app.” — Sara Timm, Marketing Communications Manager

UHS: “As a healthcare organization, we [were] on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic…we launched our app for employees a little less than a year ago, but it has never been as important to our organization as it is now.” — Steven Perlin, Communication Manager

Veterans United: “Email is necessary, but it’s boring. We had a few things we needed on [a mobile] platform…Luckily enough, everybody in our company has an email, everybody in our company has access to a desktop or a laptop. It was when they were away from work that we were concentrating on.” — Cooper Lefler, Internal Communications Manager

BNSF Logistics: “Employees were really missing out on a bulk of the news that we wanted to share. So, we decided to partner with theEMPLOYEEapp. What I loved about theEMPLOYEEapp was that their team was made up of communication professionals. I wanted someone to understand the challenges that we were going through from an internal communications standpoint.” — Sherrell Watson, Previous Director of Communications

Upstate Vet: “The app changed everything. It’s been critical to getting everything to all team members and make it so they can communicate with each other and with us.” — Brittni Huff, Employee Training & Development Manager

Read all of our case studies to learn best practices for mobile communication.

 

Day 4: Rapid Deployment

As everything around us changed this year, we realized that we needed to respond to the changing environment as well. We found that many organizations need to be connected, needed to communicate, and they needed it right now

So, we worked hard to condense the deployment process for theEMPLOYEEapp and introduced Rapid Deployment on April 13th. With this option, we can get you up and running with your own employee communications app in just one day.

 

Day 5: Measurement Matters

Graphic depicting that internal communications objectives should align with the organization's goals.

Internal communications professionals have been focusing more and more on measurement in recent years. And this year, in particular, we believed it was pivotal to help educate internal communication professionals on how to measure their impact. And we wanted to give them the tools to measure their success regardless of if they had access to fancy analytics platforms or much data to work with. 

So, we partnered up with Sean Williams to talk about why we should measure, how to set the right goals, and a practical example of how to measure and take action. Watch these episodes to become a measurement expert and be ready for 2021.

 

Day 6: Communicating Through Change

Graphic depicting the stages of the Prosci ADKAR Model of change management.

We talked with change management expert Kara Sundar to pick her brain about how to best communicate change. And this couldn’t have come at a better time. By April and May of 2020, we were able to share this series on change management to help communicators through an unprecedented time of change at their organizations. 

Part one focused on the five stages of the change curve and best practices at each stage. And part two focused on examples of communicating change and different strategies to do so effectively.

 

Day 7: How to Support Your Line Managers

Line manager in a meeting with his direct reports (line workers) in manufacturing.

Also in April of 2020, we honed in on a need to give more support to field managers. Poor line manager communication was already a huge challenge for communicators. And these challenges only became more pronounced during the pandemic when the stakes were higher than ever before. Clear, direct communication had to reach all employees to keep everyone safe and informed. So we put together our top three tips for helping improve line manager communication skills.

 

Day 8: How to Overcome Top Communications Challenges

After a survey of IC pros that we completed in July, we brought a few internal communications experts together to address the top challenges IC pros reported facing. Some of these challenges in the survey included:

  • Not being prepared with a crisis communication plan in advance.
  • Getting an adequate budget during the crisis.
  • Keeping leadership engaged in the long run.
  • Lack of leadership empathy.

But our interview with our experts came right on the heels of the death of George Floyd and the riots and protests nationwide. This couldn’t be ignored and was now another thing that communication professionals needed to incorporate into their strategies. And our experts really stepped up to help out. Advice included ways to get senior leadership buy-in, ways to engage your CEO to get them in front of the camera more, and ways to use data to make your case for budget and strategy changes. Watch the full episode to learn how you can be more prepared as we continue to face challenges from the pandemic and how you can better improve DEI at your organization.

 

Day 9: Patient Experience Needs Internal Comms Right Now

Two Healthcare workers bump elbows as a greeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry has been profound. Patient trust was shaken, or lost. People were understandably anxious about going back to the dentist or the doctor for non-COVID related appointments. People were worried about how safe it would be. 

This put more pressure on the Patient Experience team at healthcare organizations than ever before. Winning back trust and creating a completely safe experience—on top of maintaining patient care standards—takes a lot. But luckily, internal communications teams have already had to fight for and earn a seat at the table. IC pros have had to embrace the digital revolution already. And they have had to form strong partnerships with cross-functional departments across the organization to get shit done.

So in August, we shared how these two teams can team up for the better.

 

Day 10: BNSF Logistics Webinar

Dock worker scans a shipping container.

After a year of focusing on challenges, anxieties, uncertainty, and a lot of other negative things, we started searching for hope. The stories. The best practices that could guide others through this difficult time. And we found droves of them among our existing clients.

BNSF Logistics has been using theEMPLOYEEapp for some time now, but how they upped their game during this crisis is inspiring. From improving mobile and remote training to creating a completely remote onboarding program, they have done incredible things this year. 

Watch their previous Director of Internal Communications share their journey on a webinar we held at the end of the summer.

 

Day 11: Communicator Spotlights

Three communicators with their name and titles below.

A BIG round of applause is due for communicators everywhere. And the marathon is still going with no definitive end of the pandemic in sight. So, we wanted to start recognizing these amazing communicators and their contributions. In the fall, we started our communicator spotlight series. We feature clients of ours who have been doing amazing things both before the pandemic and during it. Read their stories to hear their words of wisdom, stories, and tips.

 

Day 12: Internal Communication Audit Guide

As 2020 comes to a close, we all have to look to 2021. Where people work has changed. What information employees need has changed. How we share those messages may have changed or might still need to change. Leaders may want to be more hands-on with communication. You might even have a whole new audience of remote employees.

It’s time to conduct an internal communications audit. We created this resource, in part, because we should always be reassessing our audiences, channels, and tools. We always need to be aware of who we need to reach, how we’re reaching them, and where the gaps might be. 

But we also realized that it’s never been more apparent to organizations that they don’t have a direct line of communication with deskless workers. Many of our new clients came to us this year because of this need. Crisis really shows us our shortcomings. And this disruption is actually the perfect opportunity for meaningful change that will improve the lives of workers and benefit the organization long after the pandemic is over.

Even if you’ve done one recently, so much has changed this year that it’s worth taking another look. And this is the time of year where you might really be able to strategize and get ahead for next year. With this second wave of closures and upcoming vaccine distribution communications, will you be prepared for what’s next?

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