Internal Communication Best Practices
for Workforce Re-Entry
COVID-19 has taken us all by surprise and caused a great deal of uncertainty. As you know, in moments of insecurity and concern, it’s not only about what organizations do but equally how they do it that matters. During these times, clear, consistent internal communication is more important than ever. As you develop your re-entry plans, here are some people-centered internal communication best practices for your workforce re-entry.
Before: Set the tone for a safe and positive new norm.
Proactivity and consistency in message as the situation evolves is key at this stage. In a period of so many unknowns, understanding and accounting for the impact that so much change has on our brain and performance is essential. Your employees are looking for direction and confidence. Remember to lead with empathy, compassion, and transparency. Address as many of the “knowns” as possible.
Here are best practices to consider for communicating about re-entry before it happens:
2-3 Weeks from Re-Entry:
Own the narrative. Seize your story and be transparent about current realities—including what you don’t know. Painting a compelling picture of the future provides the comfort your people need..
Communicate frequently. Share weekly updates about steps that have been taken to prioritize your team’s safety. Address their most important concerns about returning to work in as much detail as possible.
Explore alternative communication channels. Consider providing updates and messages in easy to digest formats like webinars, podcasts or videos. Create a central hub on your intranet where employees can find all the needed resources to prepare to return to work.
Make it a conversation. Provide a hotline or central email for employees to address questions and concerns before coming back to work.
A Week from Re-Entry:
Make it personal. Have managers or a team of leaders reach out with a call to associates to reinforce steps taken and address any questions they may have.
Ensure a great first day back. Mail employees the necessary materials (masks, gloves, etc.) and provide details on new ways of working. Make the new safety habits that are expected of them clear and, if possible, provide opportunities for them to practice before they walk through the door, ensuring clarity and comfort on the new path forward.
During: Establish a clear path forward.
The transition back to work comes with many emotions and concerns. Make sure to be present and have resources to help your team navigate the new norm with ease.
While always important, these practices set your people up to adapt more effectively to the change upon return:
Set leaders up for success. Create scenario guides that provide managers with best practices to address commonly asked questions and issues so they feel confident guiding employees through challenges that might surface.
Be planful and present. Provide leaders with tools and talking points that provide clear direction, transparency, and frequent appreciation.
Provide support – on and off the jobsite. Consider bringing in medical and local experts to facilitate question and answer sessions with your teams to understand the facts of how to stay educated and safe during this time. Share where employees can go for help through their manager, EAP, and other company resources.
Ongoing: Sustain the momentum.
While new ways of work may be established, there will still be issues that present themselves that will require ongoing communications to ensure that the progress made continues. The need to operate differently gives businesses the opportunity to understand what they can and should do moving forward.
To turn re-entry into ongoing opportunity, consider these best practices:
Maintain continuity. Take key points from the preparation steps you took at the beginning and continue communication efforts on anticipated changes. The consistent approach provides an expected platform that will help your team navigate future challenges and opportunities with greater ease.
Keep communication channels open. The open communication created through the re-entry effort should be maintained to provide voice and opportunity to all employees.
Create the future playbook. Throughout the re-entry effort, capture your best practices and learnings so you can create the playbook for navigating future challenges that present themselves.
Showing up authentically and transparently through communication is a critical key to preparing your people to re-enter the workplace. As you navigate the many decisions you are making as a leader, remember that how you communicate those decisions goes a long way in energizing and engaging your people.
For more tips on re-entry, check out our Re-Entry Considerations for Leaders resource. If you’d like to connect with a TiER1er to discuss your individual scenario, or to explore ideas for building adaptive ways of working for onsite or virtual teams, reach out in the Let’s Talk form below or give us a call at 859-415-1000.