On a recent sunny Saturday, I took off on what was supposed to be a relaxing cruise to the Southern Caribbean. One week later, I was stranded at sea because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Two tension-filled days after that, my fellow passengers and I finally disembarked. Yet instead of vowing to never step onboard another ship again, many of us left even bigger fans of the cruise line than when we started.

How is that possible? The crew members made all the difference, focusing entirely on our health and safety.

As a passenger, I appreciated that the crew members put my welfare above their own.  But I wondered, how could an organization engender that much loyalty from its employees?

In my internal communication work, I’ve done a lot of reading and writing about the “employee experience.” I know the vital role it plays in engaging employees and increasing productivity.

More important than ever
Creating an exceptional employee experience will help keep employees feeling connected to your organization and each other, as well as focused on your strategic priorities.

Internal communication can be the linchpin in your efforts. Here are a few key strategies to consider:

1. Keep listening to employees’ needs
Even though most employees aren’t physically at your work sites, you can still gain insights into their concerns and ideas for how to improve their work experience.

Online surveys and web-based focus groups can help you get a pulse on employees’ needs at this time:

  • Focus questions on topics of concern (e.g., connecting with managers, getting updates from leaders, understanding how performance will be measured)
  • Use insights to inform your COVID-19 communication efforts

2. Help leaders reassure employees
Employees want to know what the organization is doing to weather this crisis. Help leaders address these concerns:

  • Create quick-response toolkits for leaders that include online resources like tip sheets and FAQs with the most up-to-date information
  • Make sure leadership is visible, whether for real-time web-based meetings or update videos posted to your intranet
  • Encourage two-way communication like blogs or Q&A sessions through your internal social media feed

3. Create virtual opportunities for community building
Thanks to the amazing technology available, you can create virtual experiences that bring everyone together, even when they are physically apart. Examples include:

  • Web-based town halls and meetings where employees can receive valuable updates and ask questions
  • Charitable opportunities like online fund or food drives
  • Social events like virtual happy hours or home-office selfie challenges

Employees are your most valuable asset. Now is the time to create the experience that strengthens their confidence and loyalty.

 

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