Focus on Humanity

The human-ness of our employees is not new or earth-shattering, but we’ve seen our colleagues’ humanity a lot more in 2020 and 2021. “Work self” and “home self” blended together as virtual meetings revealed fussy toddlers, messy guest rooms and offices, schoolroom workspaces and the realities of working during a worldwide pandemic.

That’s why embracing humanity goes beyond a 2021 employee communication trend — it’s imperative from here out. We must recognize and communicate to the humanity of our employees. Here are a few ideas of how that could play out.

Tell impactful stories through employee testimonials. People relate to people. For example, you may be trying to find a way to educate employees on how their Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can support them. Ask employees to share their positive experiences with the EAP in a real and authentic way. Testimonials can be shared via video, podcast interview or in writing through a blog post or intranet article.

The reality is that stories stick. This is an internal communication trend that is backed by science. “We are programmed through our evolutionary biology to be both consumers and creators of story,” said Jonah Sachs, CEO of Free Range Studios and author of Winning the Story Wars.

By leveraging testimonials and empowering employees to share their stories, you can help create a workplace that embraces humanity.

Create ways to receive feedback. An important part of embracing humanity is understanding your employees’ needs and providing appropriate, effective solutions for them. You can do this in part by making it easy for employees to submit feedback, and by creating an environment that makes them feel safe to do so.

Collect and measure feedback such as how they perceive your recent internal communication tactics and what benefits and resources employees want and need.

There are many ways to approach this. Are you a feedback newbie? Try short pulse surveys on your intranet or via email. Are you ready to kick it up a notch? Focus groups and longer employee surveys can help paint a fuller picture of how your employees are thinking and feeling.

After collecting your data, organize it into a summary that can help you find the right solutions for your employees’ specific needs.

Embrace Flexibility

When you think of employee communication and policy trends brought about by the pandemic, flexibility is probably already at the top of your list. But flexibility goes beyond flexible work arrangements. This internal communication trend should inform and influence many aspects of your 2021 employee communication strategy. Here’s how.

Make content flexible. Your employees have a lot going on. Give them options for how to engage with internal communication content. Maybe they want to listen to a benefits podcast while walking the dog. Or maybe they want to watch a quick video in between meetings. Information should be on-demand and on-the-go so that people have the flexibility to access information when they need it and when it’s convenient for them.

Be flexible. Pivoting in light of new information isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s important to keep adjusting your approach to employee communication throughout the year. There’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, but use pencil instead of pen.

Cultivate Belonging

Creating a culture of belonging is a tall order. And it’s more than an internal communication trend. It’s a timeless necessity. It’s a key to being a company where employees are motivated to give their best work. And it’s harder than ever to cultivate in this new world of remote or hybrid work. But it’s not impossible. Here are some examples of how you might cultivate inclusivity.

Make D&I a priority. Michael Bertolino wrote an article in Forbes discussing why Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is crucial in times of disruption. Ultimately, employees need to feel that they belong and they need to feel valued. Bertolino writes, “A strong sense of belonging has multiple benefits for organizations. It can lead to better collaboration, employee retention and improved business performance.

When people feel as if they belong, they are more motivated and engaged.” Walk the talk and make D&I a priority. Here are some ideas of where to start.

Focus on mental wellbeing. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people around the globe. More than 42% of people surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in December 2020 reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the month, a dramatic increase from 11% the previous year.

Supporting the mental wellbeing of your employees and providing them with helpful mental health resources is a critical piece of creating a culture of belonging. (Check out this article for a full look at how we think about employee mental wellbeing.)

We would love to help.

While these three important employee communication trends for 2021 that can help you transform your employee experience, the easiest way to truly make an impact with your 2021 employee communication is to listen. Listen to what your employees need and respond with empathy and understanding.

We can help you do that! From start to finish, we’ve got your back. Contact us for creative, on-trend employee communication solutions that can take your business to the next level!