As the world navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are likely feeling anxious about job security, mental and physical health, financial stability, and adapting to a new way of working. Employee communication teams need to find new ways to reach a global, remote and stressed workforce with personalized content experiences.
How can we continue supporting our employees and keep their hearts and minds centered while they work? How do we identify and deliver the right content to inform, engage and empower them?
Thinking like a content marketer can help. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Traditionally, marketing and employee comms have had very separate swim lanes. But the lines are blurring more and more. Employees want and consume content in the same way an external audience does: through highly engaging, timely and relevant content that speaks to them without the fluff. Here are three content marketing hacks to help you deliver a better employee experience.
Marketers create these semi-fictional characters to segment buyers into groups with similar traits, desires and challenges. Internally, this may include tenure, age, gender, job level, attitudes, behaviors and needs. Personas take the guesswork out of planning by helping you visualize and build a narrative, fuel and personalize content and shift away from the one-size-fits-all messaging model. Especially during a crisis, knowing your employees and what keeps them up at night enables you to communicate with empathy and let them know they are being heard.
Read “Four Steps to Effective Employee Persona Creation“ by HR Technologist, to kickstart persona development.
Create content with intention
Think about why you’re creating content. Is it to inform, entertain, persuade or retain? What formats do you need? How will you share it and measure effectiveness? Focus more time on creating key content that resonates with people through personal or company stories, instead of noisy content with no purpose. Content is heavily driven by leadership during a crisis. Employees want to know what’s happening, how is it being handled and what it means for them. Studies show that leaders who communicate clearly, consistently, decisively and with empathy can help create an engaged workforce and a resilient culture. This content can come from different leadership teams in various forms including:
- Virtual all-hands meetings addressing the current situation and global short and long-term plans.
- Regular updates on taking care of employees, customers and community.
- A microsite to serve as the single source of accurate information.
- Access to virtual mental and physical wellness information.
- A video on obtaining IT support while working from home.
- An emergency self-report site for those affected by COVID-19 to get support.
There are also many opportunities for lighter content on adapting to the new normal that can drive more engagement. This may include:
- Best practices on working from home.
- A “work at home Olympics” with a different challenge every week.
- Virtual happy hours, lunches, concerts, or meditation and workout classes.
- A recruiting video showcasing how the team is continuing to hire and onboard virtually.
Emphasizing mental health care is vital right now. Unfortunately, it is still a taboo topic for many. But sharing leadership messages of unity and “we’re in this together,” can help employees feel more comfortable reaching out for support through services like Lyra, or Ginger, which offers free mental health support to frontline workers. Developing resource guides or blog posts on stress relief are also great starting points. The more we talk about it, the more mainstream it becomes to talk about mental health. And if there isn’t a company-sponsored service, then learn about the eight ways to get support at little or no cost.
In addition, you can empower employees to make a difference. People often want to help during a crisis but don’t know where to start—especially when they are quarantined. While companies are giving back in creative ways, think about individual employee contributions: How can they use their skills or resources to help colleagues or their community? Set up local and global online volunteering opportunities. Then share those stories of employees giving around the world.
Read Gallop’s “3 Strategies for Leading Effectively Amid COVID-19“ for more insight on exemplary leadership during a crisis.
Use a multi-channel approach
People generally need to encounter a message between 3-7 times before it resonates. And the best way to reach any audience is to meet them where they are. Personas can help you understand how your audience consumes content so you can repurpose it to deliver the right message at the right time.
For example, you can transform the recording of the virtual all-hands meeting into snackable video clips and distribute them on different channels. Internally, a multi-channel approach allows you to engage employees on their preferred platforms for important updates and to connect with each other. Investing in reliable, collaborative tools; make sure they’re a part of your overall strategy and not just another channel. In addition to the intranet, digital signage, print, company mobile app and team all-hands meetings, consider other ways to keep employees connected:
- Division hubs
- Social media
- Company Facebook
- Slack (Tip: Use Donuts to set up a virtual hangout)
- Zoom, ON24
- Collaboration tools like G-Suite or Trello
Read “How to Collaborate Better in 2020“ to learn why focus and communication trump shiny new tools.
Forward-thinking leaders know that employees are the keys to success. With the right leadership, strategies from the marketing playbook and effective communication, you can foster trust and engagement to pull through any crisis, while building a better employee experience.