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When the pandemic hit earlier this year, many organizations immediately started focusing on their external stakeholders making sure their customers knew the organization valued them especially as they had to close down or curtail operations for an indefinite period of time. But what about their internal stakeholders 

On Wednesday, May 27, we were joined by Jodi Davidson, VP, Global University & Inclusion, Sodexo Corp.; Tia Mason Howard, APR, Director Internal Communications, MedStar Health; Tom Williams, APR, Managing Director, Communications, MPT; Kristi Yowell, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Associate VP for Human Resources, Goucher College; & Dianna Fornaro, APR, Director and Accreditations Chair, PRSA Maryland Chapter (moderator) to discuss the importance of not neglecting this vital group.  

Listen to the full discussion below.  

Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Ignoring your internal communications can lead to an information vacuum filled with misinformation, confusion, and anxiety.  Ways to prevent this is to …  

  • Create internal messaging that aligns with external messaging. Be sure to recognize there are different stakeholders involved 
  • Avoid standalone communications so the message is consistent by coordinating with all departments. (i.e., standardized templates)  
  • Provide a steady stream of communications. For example, MPT made the commitment for video conference every two weeks to provide a regular form of communications 
  • Engage all leadership to stay consistent  

Effectively communicating with employees who are working virtual, especially for those new to this nature of work, is equally important. Be sure to …  

  • Provide adequate tech support 
  • Be patient and flexible as not everyone is tech-savvy  
  • Send print materials to people who may not be as engaged 
  • Communicate through text (HR app)  
  • Create a simple ask a question on a COVID-19 website page to answer questions about pay/safety/work requirements, etc.  

 *Consider that not all employees are remote. Don’t forget to arm leaders with the necessary tools to stay in touch 

Keeping all employees engaged and upbeat is another challenge. Be sure to …  

  • Acknowledge the strangeness of the situation. Create a campaign asking for videos of what it is like to work under these circumstances, i.e., at home with family, empty offices, etc. Share widely.  
  • Offer a place where people can express out loud the challenges they are facing (personally, professionally, etc.) Create a space of validation. Encourage open conversation via virtual coffee withs, happy hours, lunch gatherings, etc.  
  • Share kudos received from the external community to reinforce their importance. *People want to know their efforts are valued by both leadership and the community.  
  • Develop a social recognition platform where colleagues can give kudos, showcase work, post photos, etc.  
  • Recognize that your team may not be doing what they normally are good at and focus instead on those things your team is doing best right now.  
  • Establish norms and options/flexibility. Not every call/virtual meeting needs to be mandatory.  

*Tip for leadership: Be transparent! Admit you don’t have all the answers but will work on getting those answers asap.  

Have tips you’d like to share? Send to info@prsamd.org.

 

 Missed the last weekly chats? Here you go …

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Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors