There is much research and opinion about management communication and leadership as a key influencer of employee engagement and organisational performance during change. However, this usually breaks up managers into two distinct groups, senior managers and “others”. There has been little examination of middle managers as a distinct communications audience and influencer in organisations.
We are being bombarded with rhetoric telling homeworkers that it is now time to get back to the office and ‘get back to work’. As we move into the next phase of the pandemic the gaslighting continues and does nothing to help organisations prepare for the safe return of some employees to their pre-pandemic workplaces. How can internal communicators neutralise the tangled messaging of an insidious gaslighting campaign designed to confuse and disorientate us?
In the wake of the pandemic is your organisational culture an Eden destroyed or a Hell vanquished? For internal communicators tasked with helping organisations balance the needs of employees and the demands of leadership to establish a new workplace Eden, there may be some big challenges to come.
The explosion of philanthropy in knowledge sharing and support which many internal communicators experienced in the early days of the pandemic is over, and paid for online events are now making a comeback. Knowledge has a price tag, but it should be one that everyone working in internal communication is able to pay.
There are lots of gaps that are barriers to ‘getting on’ in internal communication. The practice vs. theory gap, the career expectations and reality gap, the geographical opportunity gap, and perhaps the biggest, the gap between professional frameworks and recruitment. Mind the gap.
We often think of ethical internal communication issues in the context of big events such as a crisis or exposure of organisational wrong doing. In fact, we encounter ethical issues every day in the routines of internal communication practice and tactics, including the ‘all staff’ email. If we are to really do the right thing for both employees and leaders we need to stop seeing these issues as an inconvenience to be ignored or overlooked, and as an ethical communication problem to be properly resolved.
What will it take to reassure and persuade employees to confidently emerge from lockdown and return to their usual workplaces as these begin to reopen? This is not just about messaging and tactics. Internal communicators must also maintain ethical practice against the backdrop of an emerging ‘gaslighting’ campaign which seeks to change our perceptions of the pandemic and its consequences.
The world is in a mess and it seems that a complete absence of leadership, decent ethics and strategy is driving poor decision making at every level in our society and the consequences of this are immeasurable human suffering and torment. Having a few more chartered public relations practitioners might just tip the balance towards some more considered decision making by leaders which would benefit everyone and possibly save the world. However small our numbers and influence might currently be, small positive actions can collectively drive big change.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest disrupter our society has experienced for over a century, and it will change the world of work forever. My vision of a dystopian future of work may be an Orwellian fantasy, but it includes the issues which internal communicators will be grappling with for years to come.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic internal communicators have been adding our experiences of what it is like to practice during a significant historical event to the vast digital record of our times on social media and the internet. What will this historical archive we are creating say about what we did and what our purpose was during these difficult days, who will feature in it, and will it be a past imperfect?