Employee communications are more important now than ever, not just to ensure that everyone is getting the right information, but to engage employees and enable them to feel that they are being heard.

In a recent webinar, Tina Tuttle, Head, Executive and Enterprise Solutions at Novartis US Pharmaceuticals shared a number of methods that, used together, will help foster a sense of community and show that employee communicators are listening and reacting to their employee’s input.

1. Collaboration Tools Like Microsoft Teams

One of the best collaboration tools out there - and nearly ubiquitous in Fortune 1000 companies -  is Microsoft Teams. People spend a lot of time in Teams, mainly for chat and small group (e.g, teams) audio and video conferencing. But Teams can do so much more - including providing access to content in SharePoint-based intranets, shared SharePoint team sites, files stored in OneDrive, and even corporate messaging. 

Teams is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 platform, and is the latest generation of Microsoft’s Skype for Business chat app. Most large companies (including ninety-three of the Fortune 100) run Office 365 for Word, PPT, Excel, and Outlook and also use Teams and SharePoint.

There’s no question that the best way to engage employees is to put your content in places they’re most likely to see it - and Teams is that place. 

The most direct alternative to Teams is Slack - which is often used by companies that are not big users of Office 365 - and instead favor Google’s G-suite. 

Products like Zoom and Webex, best known for their video conferencing, also have chat features and can be used to keep team members updated with files and the status of a project. And companies with large sales teams may use Salesforce’s Chatter app. For more options, The Couch Manager has recently updated their comprehensive list of collaboration tools.

2. Content Management and Syndication Tools

Instead of creating an intranet page or site for all COVID-19 content, it’s easier to  leverage a content syndication solution, where a communicator creates a message that is pushed out to multiple channels. This approach offers the opportunity to create a curated “hub” that serves as the single source of truth - but doesn’t limit the distribution of that content by forcing users only to that hub. By using syndication and curation employees are far more likely to become aware and engage with important information without having to use their intranet.

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3. Q&A / Idea Forums

With so much work and life in flux because of COVID-19, employees have a ton of questions - and will continue to have questions for the foreseeable future. Rather than answering the same questions over and over again, hold regular Q&A forums and post those responses - in either written or video form. 

Novartis is using the crowdsourcing app Pigeonhole to enable their employees to create and rank questions and ideas. This approach not only provides an easy way for employees to provide ideas and feedback, but it lets everyone see what’s on their colleagues' minds, and gives employee communicators the ability to see which topics and issues are most important to their employees.

4. Pulse Checks

If you don’t already, send out weekly pulse check surveys. PC Magazine reviewed some popular ones that can be used for both employee satisfaction and for polling your customers. Tailor your questions to topics like: “What do you need that we aren’t giving you?” or “How are communications working?” Replies to the survey should have their own email mailbox that is monitored and responded to frequently - as often as every hour.

5. Employee Recognition 

Keeping morale up and finding ways to engage employees is especially important right now. Give employees a place to submit ideas on how to improve their situations. If there are some adopted ideas, make sure that the person behind the idea is given the credit. Or create a contest to encourage participation.

6. Large Group Video/Teleconferencing

Technologies are available to bring large groups, such as company-wide town halls, or departments together to keep them connected and informed. While there are a number of options to choose from, Zoom Enterprise can host up to 1,000 participants and has become the poster child for smaller department meetings since the COVID-19 quarantine. 

For small group meetings, Microsoft Teams has a user max of 250 people. But there’s a new feature called Teams Live Events that can handle up to 10,000 live attendees!

7. Personal Development Resources

While everyone is continuing to work hard, make sure to continue to encourage personal development, so that employees remember that it’s valuable to continue to learn and grow. Re-focusing on the long-term goals that they set for themselves, whether it be a promotion or particular skill set, is a critical reminder right now when the focus has been so short-term.

8. Community-Building Ideas 

Along with recognition, central forums, and more, be sure that you are inviting people to share their stories on a team's channels. The stories will help to create and maintain the community that your company has built.

We are all adjusting to the new normal right now. The focus is shifting from crisis management to a long-term strategy for coping. If the internal communications team keeps the human element front and center, giving them forums to be seen, recognized and heard, employees will continue to lean on their companies as the primary source of information and support.

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Velaku is an app that provides Employee and HR Communicators with digital solutions to help them engage their employees easily, quickly and more effectively. Velaku provides pre-packaged digital experiences for common communications scenarios. They are made up of automation tools that speed up the creation and distribution of content, and robust analytic tools for data-driven decisions and targeting.

"There’s no question that the best way to engage employees is to put your content in places they’re most likely to see it - and Teams is that place."


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