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Now is the time to invest in internal communications – by Alex Malouf

It’s a fairytale story, so indulge me for a moment. The dark horse, which everyone ignored, has suddenly beaten out the rest of the crowd and taken first place in the race. What I’m referring to is internal communications, and the need to proactively engage with employees. For most organizations across the Middle East, internal communications has been an afterthought. It’s the weekly email which goes out to everyone with an update on what the CEO has been up to.

Let’s face it, internal comms has been the area which has been the least invested in, when compared to corporate affairs, media relations, or even influencer marketing. But, due to the crisis we’re living through, internal communications has become the most important element of a communicator’s job today.

Here’s why internal communications matters more than ever:

1)      Keep your People Healthy and Safe – If it isn’t obvious, I’ll repeat what I said before. We’re living through a pandemic, and that pandemic is here to stay for at least a year (until we have a vaccine or herd immunity). Internal communications is imperative to keep your employees safe – you should be updating them on a regular basis as to what your organization is doing for their health and safety, as well as sharing health-related advice from bodies like the World Health Organization and national entities. And it’s not just about their physical safety. Internal comms should be addressing mental well-being, as well as issues around cyber security.

2)      Listening and Addressing Employee Concerns – Any crisis is unsettling for employees and their families. And we are dealing with multiple health and economic crises at once. Employees will be worried. They’re going to have questions. A good internal comms person will read the room, so to speak, understand what issues need to be addressed, and help the leadership answer the most pressing questions openly and transparently. This should be the beginning of a regular dialogue between management and employees, which will help build trust for when hard decisions need to be made (which is always the case in a crisis).

3)      Help Ensure Employees Can Work Effectively – Many of us are working from home. While there’s benefits to this (does anyone love the office commute?), there’s also a host of challenges. People are social, we want to engage face to face and have a chat with our colleagues. Some employees will be feeling lost, both in terms of the technology as well as the physical isolation. Internal comms can help foster a sense of community and help employees work more effectively. This could include tips and tricks on using technology. It could be about giving teams a distraction, to help them socially bond via an activity which makes them smile.

I’m only scratching the surface here on why internal communications matters during this crisis. My hope is that leaders in government and business across the Middle East will realize the importance of internal communications right now, and put money and resources into the function. If you care about your employees, their well-being and their ability to do their jobs right now, show it. Invest in internal communications.