What impact has informality had on our workplace communications? In a world where a meeting with your colleagues could be held at the kitchen table, there has certainly been a change to work relationships. But how should employee communicators react to the new levels of intimacy that has evolved?
Michelle Projekt - VP, Global Head of Internal Communications at PepsiCo, Margaret-Ann Cole - EVP, Global Talent Leader, Porter Novelli and Patrick O'Connell - Head of Marketing & Communications, KONE Americas answered these questions and one more in the second installation of our webinar series.
Casual Fridays are now Casual Every Days
Margaret-Ann Cole of Porter Novelli pointed out that informality and intimacy has become part of the new normal, which has resulted in a high level of authenticity and trust between the employee and their company.
“There is more tolerance for imperfection” she said, gesturing to her art-filled home office, “allowing employee communications to be faster.” People have come to expect more communications, more often, with credibility that’s derived from higher levels of leadership, and with more interaction and more transparency than before. Simply put, employees would rather get credible content, frequently and with seamless access, regardless of whether it looks ‘professional’ - as long as it’s perceived as trusted, valid and authentic.
“Things are less formal now”, she believes. Employees are essentially inviting their co-workers and clients virtually into their homes with Zoom or Microsoft Teams video meetings. People are dressing more casually. This time has allowed employee communicators to craft ways to create a stronger virtual community.
"There is a rise in the virtual happy hour", she said, "where employees can share camaraderie and have some fun." One of her teams has started a Bingo game, where the winner is able to donate their “prize money” to a charity of their choice.
Patrick O'Connell of KONE agreed. “As remote as we are, we’ve tried to instill a stronger connection. I have a happy half hour for my team at 4:30pm every day - we use it as just a chat. It’s a way, as a leader, to connect with my team.” As things go forward, he hopes to maintain that kind of “glue”.
Speaking of Glue…..Here’s Hoping...
As we wrapped up the webinar, we asked our panelists to close their eyes and think about what they’d like to see 12 months from now. Michelle went first, expressing best what all of them were hoping for.
“I hope that our employees feel that we treated them well and that we cared. And that they look back and have a positive engagement and connection to this time”.
Our co-moderator, Tracy, finished the thought. "These hopes can serve us as an intention as we go through this journey. The intention can then guide our actions."
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