I’m sick of my virtual happy hour! Communicating in the face of COVID fatigue
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many of us have shifted back or continue to work remotely. While our current situation demands social distancing, staying connected is more important than ever.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed like every internal communications or employee relations plan included some kind of video conferencing happy hour, coffee hang out or virtual meet up with colleagues to stay connected. These encounters ended in awkward silence and many interrupted conversations followed by “no, you go first!” Fast-forward eight months, we most of us really can’t stomach one more virtual meeting on our calendars.
Here are some fresh ideas to effectively communicate with employees as they face the challenges from COVID fatigue.
Meet your team where they are
One of the keys to effective communication is understanding where your audience engages with content. For best results, send messages through channels you know they access frequently. Some ideas include:
1. Company Newsletters
Depending on your line of work, many employees spend eight or more hours per day looking at their computer screen and operating out of an email inbox. Communicate with employees by offering a newsletter that provides operational, financial and personal celebration updates for the organization. Use this opportunity to integrate a video message from company leadership, to offer a personal touch. Newsletter copy can also be printed and distributed in hardcopy form for employees that are not computer-based.
If you have employees who are still working on site but don’t access email on a regular basis, provide organizational updates in the form of signage that can be displayed in breakrooms, locker rooms or other high traffic areas. Use eye catching graphics and easily digestible content for an option that can quickly be consumed by employees.
3. Social Media
Another effective communication tactic, especially if you have a younger team, is to leverage social media. Create a closed Facebook group for employees post engaging content in it. This allows you to interact with younger team members where they are most comfortable receiving messages.
If a newsletter isn’t your style, consider asking leadership to record a weekly video, updating staff with any important business information as well as general encouragement and advice for effectively working from home. Seeing a CEO from their home office on a weekly basis is a great way to build trust and transparency companywide.
- Feel free to invite guests – from HR representatives to talk about mental health services available to furry friends to lighten the mood.
- Don’t worry about it feeling overly produced – an iPhone propped up with a few books is all you need.
- Keep it short – 2-5 minutes is perfect.
Be authentic with your communication
2020 has required huge adjustments. We’ve been forced to pivot our marketing and business strategies and we are constantly innovating to create feasible solutions in our new normal.
We’re all tired, stressed and missing the way things used to be. And that’s OK. Don’t forget to remind your work friends it’s OK to feel those things, too.
Carve out time to talk one-on-one or in small groups about challenges your coworkers are facing personally or professionally. Offer a listening ear when your colleagues need an opportunity to vent and be as transparent as possible about the state of the organization.
Let’s be real, 2020 has a tough year. We’ve adapted incredibly well and that is something to celebrate. Here are some cool ideas to show your appreciation and congratulate your team on a job well done:
1. Employee of the Month
Applaud your employees hard work by spotlighting a standout team member every month. Recipients of the recognition can receive a company-branded prize pack full or your organization’s swag, or a front row parking spot which will become a hot commodity during our cold weather months. This idea becomes even more engaging if you ask the team to nominate their peers for this award.
For employees really going above and beyond in the face of adversity, adding an incentive can be an effective way to say “thank you”. Incentives don’t need to be comprised of thousands of dollars in bonus checks, but a small gift card can be a huge token of appreciation during the holidays.
An unconventional way to show employees you care is by offering additional training. Rather than selecting what the employee will become trained in, allow them the autonomy to pick areas they’re passionate about. This expertise elevates your team and shows your employees you’re willing to invest in their future, too.
4. Brand Ambassador Program
Find a group of employees who are passionate about your organization and ask them to showcase their excitement on social media. By coordinating a brand ambassador program, employees can highlight your company culture to their social circles, helping you attract and retain top talent. This honor also demonstrates how highly you regard your employees and their standing in the community.
Add structure to team events
Rather than hosting a group conference call to connect with your team, try planning an event, such as trivia or another virtual game. Delegate a host for each event, who can facilitate communication and offer everyone an opportunity to engage in conversation.
Encouraging team members to bring a beverage of choice to the meeting doesn’t hurt either.
Ask their opinion
It’s easy to overlook the obvious. Conducting a companywide survey facilitates conversation about what employees feel an organization is doing well and offers guidance on topics and tactics to further communicate.
We’d love to brainstorm ideas just for your organization. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.