Since the crisis began, HR and internal communication teams have had to face many challenges. We asked ourselves: Did this work well in every company? Maybe yes, but maybe no. That’s why we would like to discuss this topic with you, learn from best practices and challenges, and prepare for the next possible crisis.

How could good internal communication succeed?

In an ideal world, internal crisis communication would certainly cover aspects such as quickness, always being up-to-date while securing a clear, transparent, trustworthy and holistic communication. As well as ensuring that all employees are reached by relevant, sometimes individualised messages and information all at the same time.

If you read news reports about best practices during the Corona pandemic, it seems that most companies that have had an intranet or an employee app in place have advantages. For example, they were able to provide quick, global and regional news feeds, Corona info pages, push notifications or live broadcast messages from the management within their app.

Here is a good practice example: Vodafone Germany had to inform 16.000 employees who were spread over Germany. They quickly created a Corona Task Force and kept their employees updated via the Vodafone employee app. In addition, the CEO informed all employees about the latest status updates in a live stream each week. Employees could ask questions during these weekly town hall meetings or via their dedicated Corona hotline.

What have been the challenges?

Studies proved that one of the biggest challenges has been to reach all employees with Corona messages. Many companies also struggled with technical infrastructure, limited time resources and with identifying relevant content.

In some companies there had been a complete lack of communication to employees. Nobody felt responsible or they waited for others to start the communication. In addition, there had been only a few task forces and key messages to employees were rare, says our MD Janet Haupka and summarises her experiences. In small companies or startups, you don’t have an internal communication team, an intranet or an employee app. They were all struggling to keep their heads above water due to the crisis situation. Nevertheless, you immediately have to appoint someone who feels responsible for the internal communication in such a situation. Someone who takes care of all crisis topics, does not wait for others to act, listens to employees’ needs, and opens crisis channels via Slack, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, mailings, Zoom meetings or whatever works for their team.

HR always has a share in internal communication – especially during the lockdown. Since topics such as the well-being and health care of employees, home office and its legal framework or short time work have had to be clarified and communicated quickly and transparently by HR.

If the Corona communication to employees did not work in the last months, it is about time to start getting prepared and strengthen the position of HR, to get ready for the next crisis communication, comments Janet. You should have a look at your HR departments situation and if needed, improve it.

In addition, CEOs play a fundamental role in internal crisis communication. They need to drive the communication, be available and transparent, show enthusiasm, positive engagement and have the ability to see opportunities to overcome the crisis, adds Janet. Good weather captains are of no help during a crisis. A CEO should stay calm in any situation, to be able to clearly see options to get out of it and drive them.

We are excited to hear about your experiences, best practices, learning and tips. Please leave your comments.