Pretty soon we’ll be putting 2020 in our rearview mirrors. Here are five things to think about when planning — and drafting — your end-of-year employee communication.
1. Focus on employee mental health
November and December can be tough on our mental health. The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and many people struggle with the holiday season specifically. Your employees may be feeling lonely, grappling with unrealistic expectations, facing financial pressure, or feeling overwhelmed with memories of happier times in the past.
The holiday season can cause short-term mental health challenges and exacerbate existing conditions. In fact, a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) study found that 64% of people with mental illness report that holidays make their conditions worse.
Now’s the time to remind employees of the mental health resources you offer to support them and their loved ones. It’s important to address the challenges of this time of year and offer accessible and flexible solutions. You could:
- Send a graphic email recognizing the difficulties of the holiday season and provide your top three employee mental health resources.
- Build a page on your intranet or internal benefits website highlighting all of your employee mental health support services.
- Ask a company leader to deliver a short, warm video message.
However you do it, November/December is the perfect time to promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), virtual visits with mental health providers, counseling services, and any other relevant employee mental health solutions and work-life support you provide.
2. Embrace workplace and employee diversity
Our workforces are becoming increasingly diverse and multicultural. And that’s a very good thing! Workplace diversity and inclusion often result in higher employee engagement, better innovation and problem-solving, reduced employee turnover, and much more.
But in the November/December timeframe, it’s important to remember that not all of your employees are celebrating the same things in the same ways. Authentic, sensitive internal communication can help employees feel included and appreciated. Here are some quick tips to consider:
- Have a diverse committee review your year-end communication. Avoid missteps by engaging a diverse group of employees to review any planned communication. Address any feedback they provide.
- Use an interfaith calendar. Make sure you know who may be celebrating what when and check the calendar regularly to avoid scheduling conflicts.
- Share and share-alike. Invite employees to share details about their personal celebrations, including tried and true recipes. Find the right place online to showcase all their stories and encourage employees to try one another’s traditions. (Potato parsnip latkes, anyone?)
3. Recognize that 2020 is different for employee communication
We all know that 2020 has been a trying year, and the holiday season will likely reflect that, too. Employees may not be gathering with their usual band of family and friends and they may not feel like it’s worth taking their usual Paid Time Off.
It’s important for employee communication and internal communication campaigns to acknowledge that this year may look and feel different. But we can also gently remind employees of the value of taking a break from work to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones. In fact, with the COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on all of us, a break from office responsibilities may be more important than ever.
For one of our clients, we recently ran a Staycation contest — raffling off cool Staycation packages (like everything you need for the perfect outdoor movie night) — to encourage employees to take time for themselves, even during these strange times.
4. Promote actionable employee-focused solutions
With Open Enrollment just behind (most of) us, it’s time to focus on programs and resources that employees can lean on year-round. Think about helping your employees truly understand the breadth and depth of your benefits package with clear internal communication.
They’ve just spent time making decisions about their medical, dental, vision, account, and income protection benefits, so now is a good time to promote other solutions like:
- Personal health coaching
- Financial advice and guidance
- Employee discount programs
- Elder care and child care services
And with many employees and companies working from home, it’s important to emphasize the programs your employees and their families can use anywhere!
5. Set the stage for employee communication in 2021
You’re probably already working on your internal communication strategy for 2021 and have some sense of your key messages. Why not lay the groundwork now?
- If you’ll be launching new solutions next year, start lightly promoting the fact that new resources will be coming soon to get employees excited. (It’s why every movie you see in the theatres starts with coming attractions!)
- If you’ll be running a “new year, new you”-type campaign in January, this is the perfect time to start reminding employees of the resources available to support their physical and mental health.
- If you’ll be making workplace changes, keep people in the know. 2020 has been a year of unknowns, so make sure to communicate to employees clearly and frequently to help reduce any stress for what’s ahead in 2021.
As we all prepare for the new year, make sure you close out 2020 right with a strong year-end employee communication strategy so you’re ready to jump right into 2021.