5 internal comms intranet tactics to support employees' return to work

Internal communicators emerge from the pandemic as everyday heroes across many businesses. Now, as the focus shifts to the return to work, what should internal communications teams be thinking about and how can an intranet support new challenges?

Employee returning to work with mask and mobile phone to look at company intranet

A spotlight on internal comms

As offices begin to re-open their doors across the globe after months of lockdown, internal comms teams are set to encounter a new set of challenges. Amid chaos and confusion of the pandemic, internal communications teams worked tirelessly to stay ahead of the news cycle and bring clarity and calm to employees as they adapted to the 'new normal'.

Now, as we move out of the peak of the crisis, attention turns to how internal communications will support workers as they return to offices for the first time in months. Business leaders will once again be looking to their internal communications colleagues to maintain business continuity and provide support at a crucial time. A survey by the Institute of Internal Communications revealed that two-thirds of respondents believe leadership is looking to internal comms more for guidance in the aftermath of COVID-19, while 90% assert that the pandemic will have a positive impact on the profession. 

In the coming months, teams will be focusing on communicating rules and safety procedures, building trust amongst colleagues, and sharing their organization's vision for the next normal. With multiple crucial tasks on their radar, a next-generation intranet can help to disseminate key messages and underpin a seamless transition back to the workplace.

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5 ways an intranet can support the 'return to work' strategy

Intranets played a leading role during the move to mass-scale remote work, as leaders turned to their platforms to play the role of crisis hub. The same technology will be essential as workforces shift to create their next normal. Internal comms teams can utilize their intranet platform to build community, welcome employees back to their workplace, and maximize the impact of their messaging strategy.

Top tips include:

#1. Launch a 'welcome back' hub

Following an extended period of remote work and virtually no facetime with colleagues, some employees are undoubtedly eager to return. Internal communications teams should play into this sentiment by launching a ‘welcome back’ hub on their intranet.

This page will give them everything they need for the first week back, including policy updates, FAQs, and safety measures. There could even be featured blogs and videos from colleagues expressing their excitement about reuniting with their teammates.

#2. Reward and recognize

Many employees are continuing to go above and beyond their daily duties to respond to the changes brought about by COVID-19. These acts may have flown under the radar during the pandemic's height, but now is the perfect time to recognize and reward your colleagues.

Create a series of blog spotlights to highlight team members who make a difference and embody your organization's missions and values. Incorporate rewards, badges, and social media shout-outs to take recognition efforts to the next level and add a positive touch as employees begin to return to the workplace.

Internal comms intranet employee awards

#3. Cast a spotlight on leadership

In times of challenge and uncertainty, employees look to leadership to carve a path forward. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, incorporating guidance from the C-suite was a hallmark of many internal communications strategies.

This tactic should not fall by the wayside as employees return to work. Instead, internal communications teams should create designated pathways for senior leaders to address their workforce, check-in with employees, and offer insights for the future. Consider launching videos from executive leadership teams, scheduling virtual town halls, and publishing blog content from the C-suite to cultivate enterprise-wide connections.

#4. Empower every employee to speak up

Different employees will have unique concerns, expectations, and questions surrounding the return to work. Some may be thrilled to come back to the office, while other colleagues face logistical or psychological barriers. Internal communications teams should go the extra mile to make sure everyone's voice gets heard.

To encourage employees to weigh-in, include a feedback form on your intranet's homepage dedicated to returning to work. Utilize form-building capabilities to create and send out pulse checks for additional insights on how employees feel about returning to the office. To maximize participation, announce these surveys in advance via a blog post or email that outlines your organization's commitment to creating a seamless return process.

#5. Emphasize your mission and values

Meaningful work is a universal priority: in fact, purpose ranks within the the top three factors that workers look for in an organization. As employees transition back to the workplace, carve out new opportunities for colleagues to reconnect to the values that set your enterprise apart.

Whether it's launching a new social impact initiative or creating a site page on your intranet dedicated to exploring your company's mission, bring employees together by focusing on a shared purpose. To level up community-building efforts, introduce dedicated social channels and groups and include the ability to comment, share, and react to content. 

Internal comms intranet social center

Upgrade your internal comms strategy for the return to work

Employees need guidance and support as they return to the workplace. By leveraging an intranet platform for employees, internal comms teams can devise meaningful corporate messaging strategies and ensure that every colleague has access to news and updates. If you are interested in launching a bespoke solution to underpin internal communications schemes, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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