If we as a society have learned anything during the Covid-19 crisis, it’s follow the data if you want a positive outcome. It’s no different when it comes to communicating with a dispersed and often hybrid workforce, Chloe said at our latest Sequel Presents… A Coffee With webinar. “You need to know what has worked and, importantly, what hasn’t. Why do something if you can’t measure or demonstrate that it’s worked?
“Businesses have really had to pivot since the pandemic struck, especially in creating more space for two-way conversations,” she said.
“At Vodafone Business, we had a plethora of channels, from personalised digital landing pages to SharePoint, email and Workplace, as well as lots of face-to-face events, so we had to think hard about how we reach people without overwhelming them.”
Chloe’s team quickly learned that interaction with leaders and shared experiences became very important, so set up a live weekly webinar with the CEO where employees could ask anything they liked, from business performance to what book he was reading.
“It wasn’t just important for the CEO to speak to people but for him to also hear from them. In 2020 we did 30 live shows, received over 29,000 views and answered over 400 questions.”
The team also invited employees to blog about ‘surviving not thriving’ during lockdown. “Ten bloggers shared 25 personal stories that were human and relatable and, importantly, got conversations going,” says Chloe.
“I’m a firm believer that we communicate for employees not to employees. So when stakeholders want us to use a particular channel, we ask ‘what does good look like? How will the channel help with that?’. You need insight-led stats to show why a particular channel will work.”
For Chloe, gathering that insight means analysing every bit of data you can get.
“Each month we measure what activity we’ve done against the brief. We ask what employees want to hear about and their expectations, the standout comms in the last three months, and for ratings around news sharing.”
Sometimes the feedback can be unexpected. Chloe cited a company she worked for that spent a lot of money on iPads and digital screens for factory audiences but wasn’t sure messages were landing.
“We analysed shift patterns, behaviours, where people were based, and what they had access to and discovered that employees didn’t want to spend downtime reading corporate messages on screens. For them, their line manager was the most important source of information, so we upskilled those managers to be better communicators and also carved out time in the working day for them to do that as part of their work.”
Going forward, like many, Chloe believes hybrid working will remain, and so will reliance on digital channels to support employees and give leaders visibility, along with a need to keep measurement and feedback mechanisms.
“Getting people back to feeling as one community takes time and effort but it has to be a priority. It requires a flexible, thoughtful approach. You need to communicate with kindness. People like to consume their information differently, and you’re competing for their time, so you need to understand what works for them; and you also need to know when to stop.”