EXPERT INSIGHTS

How Leadership Should Approach Hybrid Workforce Communications

August 6, 2021

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By Emma Trimbur, Public Relations Graduate Intern with contributing research by Isabella Sturgis, Associate

As companies around the United States rethink their operations to account for hybrid working, it is leadership’s responsibility to ensure the employee trust necessary to maintain a healthy and engaging company culture. With the countless changes in the past year and adaptations to the workplace, leadership should consider these factors to ensure a smooth transition to a hybrid workforce model.

Open, transparent, efficient leader communications:

The five-day, in-office work weeks are looking like a relic of the past. As we transition to hybrid work, it is necessary that leadership communicate with employees intentionally, effectively and efficiently – regardless of whether they’re at home or in the office. The below suggestions should help leaders communicate in a way that benefits all employees.

Hold regular meetings.

  • Encourage leaders and their teams to hold stand up/huddle meetings weekly to engage everyone and set priorities for the week ahead.

Encourage feedback.

  • Make room for feedback by encouraging managers to initiate 1:1 meetings with their team members according to the employees’ preferences (in person, over the phone, video chat, etc.).

Establish personal connection.

  • Use collaborative tools such as SharePoint, Teams and Zoom to build personal connections and teamwork.

Keep communication efficient.

  • Create or elevate existing communication channels to convey messages such as company news, FAQs, policy changes and training resources clearly and consistently. Remain brief in the messaging, but clearly state the ‘why’ to demonstrate respect for employees’ time.
  • Remind employees of need-to-know information, provide quick connects with senior leadership and reinforce key messaging.

Equity and inclusion for remote and in-person employees:

Understanding what each employee requires to succeed is a necessary step in ensuring equity for everyone. Use these tips to review the current situation and practices that equip employees with the resources they need to best do their job.

Invest in learning and development.

  • Salesforce reports that 59% of employees say they’ve had less access to workplace learning since COVID-19.
  • Ask for feedback and utilize surveys to assess where employees feel they can grow. Use this information to invest in tools and skills necessary for higher employee autonomy and development.
  • Allocate learning and development resources equally between workers in different locations: facilitate internal webinars, provide employee subscriptions to LinkedIn Learning, Salesforce Learning, etc.

Provide equal access to updates, information and company resources.

  • Share all important information via email or other digital communication and ask managers to cover the content in regular team meetings, so virtual workers are included in conversations that may happen in the office.
  • Digitize your workflows through tools like SharePoint so documents are easily accessible to all on-site and off-site workers.

Culture & wellness:

With so many other changes in motion, it is easy to let culture building initiatives slip down the priority list. However, it is more important than ever to support and uplift your workforce. Try these strategies to ensure culture and employee wellbeing stay top of mind.

Define.

  • Lean into your mission, vision, values and purpose that reinforces your culture.
  • In terms of company culture and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives, ensure that your external communications match what’s happening internally.

Reinforce.

  • Weave values and culture throughout all internal communications content such as on the intranet or in newsletters.
  • Encourage leadership to emphasize the importance of company culture in townhalls, meetings, written communications, etc.

Engage.

  • Advocate for participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), corporate volunteer initiatives, wellness programs, common-interest clubs, etc.

Check in.

  • Employees have become accustomed to greater empathy and flexibility due to the extreme change in routine and tragedies of the last year. Continue to emphasize wellness and acknowledge responsibilities outside of work that employees may have (caregiving, etc.).
  • Encourage people managers to facilitate regular check-ins to keep a pulse on employee wellbeing and needs.

In a time when employees are expecting more from their employers, it’s imperative that leadership find and implement solutions that foster a supportive environment. The above strategies should help leaders as they try to support and engage employees during a time of immense change–regardless of whether they’re at home or in the office.

If you have questions or are seeking counsel related to Employee Communications and Engagement, email Gaik Ping Ooi at gooi2@golin.com.

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Sources:

[1] Forbes, June 21, 2021

[2] Forbes, April 2021

[3] Kensington, May 2021

[4] Forbes, May 2021

[5] Forbes, June 3, 2021

[6] Fast Company, July 2021