As tens of thousands of U.S. businesses struggle with returning to a post-COVID new normal, comms giant Peppercomm has launched a new Employee Communications Reboarding Playbook to help them succeed. The guide offers a five-point roadmap for internal communications and human resources leaders in organizations of all types to engage employees at every level during this critical transition phase.
According to a recent survey Peppercomm conducted with the Institute for Public Relations, 80 percent of corporate executives had not started or did not know about return-to-work planning. Only 10 percent had done extensive preparation for reboarding employees.
“Determining when to allow at least some of your workforce back on site is challenging: Conditions shift almost daily, and employee sentiment shifts accordingly,” said Ann Barlow, senior partner and president of Peppercomm West Coast, in a news release. “As leadership teams navigate logistical, physical and emotional considerations, we wanted to simplify at least some aspects of the process through this playbook.”
The guide is designed to be a continual work in progress, so the team is encouraging outside organizations to share their ideas and experiences. Peppercomm will recognize others’ input, update the Playbook and share the latest thinking, along with best practices, the latest industry insights, useful tools, and templates.
A key to success is creating reboarding plans that are inherently agile and flexible
Employees’ emotions can be volatile, health and safety guidelines often change and vary across geographic regions, and COVID-19 outbreaks will continue. An effective approach will account for continuous employee feedback and external factors that can disrupt operations.
Other components of a robust reboarding plan include processes and tools to gather employee sentiment and recommendations; training and resources for frontline managers to communicate seamlessly with staff; and in-depth scenario planning to identify where the plan is weakest and how to optimize it.
“Employees will remember the first day they step into their physical space again, and how you made them feel that day and in the weeks to follow. They’ll also remember how you responded if work is interrupted again,” said Courtney Ellul, SVP and partner, Peppercomm London, in the release. “For all organizations, money, reputation and physical and mental health are on the line during reboarding. They can’t afford to get this wrong.”
The playbook is based on Peppercomm’s 26 years of experience in internal communications and employee engagement, including corporate crisis and post-crisis strategies. Peppercomm has worked with internal communications professionals, as well as CHROs and HR directors, to develop data-driven communications programs that help attract and retain talent, ensure employees are informed and engaged, and create workplaces with genuine two-way dialogue.