By now, we are well aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on the work landscape, and specifically on employee wellness. While many have enjoyed the benefits of remote work—from flexible hours, no more commuting, and the ability to spend more time with loved ones—it has also brought with it several challenges, namely isolation, and burnout.
As we look ahead to a post-COVID world and explore a “hybrid” return to the office, it’s the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your employee wellness communications plan and ensure your teams are ready for the “new normal”.
In fact, many companies are already getting back to the drawing board. The 2021 State of the Sector report found that 70% of respondents say employee wellbeing is among the top three post-COVID trends their organizations will be adopting.
So how exactly does internal communications factor in? Let’s explore the role of internal comms in improving employee wellness, and see what a good wellness-focused internal comms plan looks like.
What exactly is “employee wellness”?
We can all agree: if we spend most of our waking hours working, we should at least feel good about it, right? But employee well-being goes beyond “feel-good” vibes and surface-level benefits. That means it’s much more than free treats in the lunchroom, a foosball table, and morning meditation sessions.
A study of over 500 respondents by Research Now found that people who consider their organization’s internal comms to be “good” or “very good” were almost twice as likely to feel confident and two-and-a-half times more likely to feel happy, engaged, and enthusiastic.
When done well and with careful planning, internal communications help your organization run smoothly, which in turn keeps your employees happy and stress-free.
It paints a picture of your team’s current wellbeing
Whether through a staff survey, virtual team huddle, or one-on-one check-in (to name a few), internal communications can help you clearly understand your team’s current wellbeing, and identify any pain points.
When revamping your internal comms plan, make space for your team to voice any concerns or issues. If you’re in management, this might look like including dates and times where you are available for one-on-one check-ins, and regularly sending out staff surveys.
Your internal comms efforts should clearly indicate that you care how your employees are doing, especially as we explore a return to the office in the near future. By staying constantly in the know of your employees’ well-being, you’ll be ready to address any issues at the drop of a hat.
While productivity has increased since remote work began, this growth in productivity can rapidly lead to burnout if left unchecked. Internal comms help prevent burnout by clearly communicating work boundaries, making space for check-ins, and improving the clarity of messaging and delegation so teams aren’t overwhelmed with tasks.
Research tells us that taking frequent breaks during a workday actually increases productivity. However, when working from home, many employees forget to step away from their workspaces and take a break. This is where a good dialogue between employees and managers makes all the difference.
Remind your employees to take breaks and set boundaries between their work and personal lives. As a leader set the example by not sending emails at all hours and switching your status to “offline” during lunch.
To ensure employees aren’t overwhelmed, try to limit the number of meetings or consider if a meeting would be better suited to a quick email. If you do have meetings scheduled, ensure they don’t run long. They can get exhausting!
Improve clarity of messaging
Without regular office interactions, responsibilities and goals can get lost in virtual translation. As a result, employees may become unclear about what is expected of them.
With each of your employees, make time to review their goals and responsibilities, and try to meet with them every one to two weeks to discuss their to-do list. Give clear deadlines and ask employees what they think a reasonable timeline to complete their tasks should be.
Boost employee engagement
One of the drawbacks of extended remote work is isolation and loneliness. While remote work-related isolation may not be a problem forever, employee isolation can also occur in face-to-face work environments. As teams explore a return to the office, make sure your internal communications efforts include fostering a sense of belonging.
Organize team-building activities (virtual or otherwise) and make them fun! Encourage your employees to dress up for special holidays like St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween, host dinners and get-togethers, and invite employees to socialize with people outside their teams. A little goes a long way in boosting morale, creating a strong office culture, and making your employees feel great!
Create a strong, effective internal communications plan that prioritizes employee wellness
Boost employee wellness by investing in purpose-built internal communications software for your organization. Using technology like IC’s intranet, you can build, send, and track the results of all your communications to employees, without just relying on the classic all-staff email. Modern software also allows you to measure employee sentiment on your messages, so you’ll always have a pulse on how your staff is feeling.
Easy-to-use features such as an audience builder/sync, employee feedback, automated reminders, and timezone schedulers allow communicators to send the right message to the right people at the right time, on the channel of their choice. No app downloads or training is required for your end-users—the message simply appears in their inbox, Microsoft Teams, intranet portal, or Slack app.
Learn more today by booking a demo to see IC’s internal communications software in action. Not quite ready for a demo? Take our free, 5-minute internal communications assessment and receive a detailed scorecard and access to complementary resources to help you succeed.