Some internal communicators would claim that the rapid adoption of new digital channels and platforms during the pandemic has enabled them to usher in a new transparency and authenticity in how leaders communicate with employees. But has it, really? The rise of the anonymous question in these online encounters has implications for ethical internal communications practice and consequences for organisational cultures everywhere.
As the new year begins the pandemic is far from over and there is a naive and misplaced optimism that there will be some rapid improvement and a return to normality. The cruel reality is that the first nine months of 2021 are likely to be every bit as challenging as the last nine months of 2020. What should internal communicators be planning for and should asking ‘why’ more often be our new year’s resolution?
If the authentic personalities of leaders are a complete turn off for employees, should internal communicators help them to curate a more acceptable online or virtual persona, which may be inauthentic or downright fake? A plastic personality.
When did it suddenly become compulsory for remote workers to be ‘on camera’? Constantly being visible on camera is proven to be stressful and unproductive. We need to establish and communicate clear rules about how employees should interact in remote working organisations, to create healthy workplace cultures that are fit for a post pandemic world.
Why can’t some leaders just say thank you, without any strings attached? As internal communicators draft their organisation’s end of year message from the leadership team, our guiding principle should be unconditional kindness. After the year we have all endured, workforces need to heal, and this time there is no place for a thank you with strings attached.
We aren’t working at home, we are living at work. Virtual presenteeism amongst remote working employees is on the rise driven by a paranoia to be seen to be always ‘at work’ and fuelled by the rise of employee surveillance technology. It’s stressful, and internal communicators have responded with a barrage of mental health and wellbeing communication, but should we have been focusing on creating remote-first organisational cultures instead?
Internal communication recruitment sometimes feels like the lawless ‘Wild West’ with no agreed or universal standards for what an internal communicator is, or does, what we should know and if we should be even qualified or accredited. No wonder some recruiters don’t know what ‘good’ looks like.
There have never been more ways to listen to employees. Industrialising the practice of listening to employee voice and feedback is now easy, but it is another thing entirely to properly operationalise it and act on it. Organisations can’t claim to be properly listening to employees until both of these things are in place. Until they are, internal communicators and the leadership teams we serve will remain tone deaf.
ggelf IC has had a reinvention and is now The IC Citizen. What The IC Citizen stands for isn’t a 'stupid idea'. It’s important for all of us that work in internal communication and who are serious about doing a good job and becoming better at what we do. A compass guides the way.
We stand on the threshold of Lockdown 2.0 in England. Ironically timed to begin on Guy Fawkes Day, it is a bonfire of the liberties as our lives become ever more restricted once again. In Lockdown 1.0, I learned a few coping strategies. Eternal optimists may wish to look away now.