There was no shared coffee and donuts in our Mass Ave gathering space last week as Borshoff brought together – virtually – our networking group of internal communicators for a “Shoff Chat.” I knew our discussion wouldn’t be typical either – after all, COVID-19 has been shifting our profession before our eyes. I was grateful to bring in Rebecca Ellis, managing director of The Performance Lab, as our moderator.
Rebecca’s expertise in organizational culture and its relationship with business performance served as a sounding board for our discussion around how things have shifted in our space, how deeply the impact will be felt, and the internal communicators’ role and increased visibility in this new environment.
Our biggest takeaways?
Putting people first is good business strategy
This notion has informed internal communications and employee engagement strategies for years but is finally coming to the forefront as we see many corporations responding to COVID-19 with atypical compassion and empathy. Mark Cuban thinks its powerful enough to permanently change capitalism for the better. And research shows a direct correlation between a people-first approach to engagement and workforce productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, safety, quality and other metrics.
Our group agreed putting the employee experience at the center will continue to have real business impact, and organizations that do this well during the global health crisis will see benefits immediately and longer-term.
Internal communicators are strategic business partners – not a support function
Anyone who has spent time working in internal communications has likely experienced the frustration of having to constantly sell in their function’s value to the C-suite before they even get to the part where they help solve problems and keep businesses running smoothly. Our group observed: no longer. We’ve proven our value over the last eight weeks and predict we’ll increasingly see an elevation or modernization of our profession as a result.
The volatile economy isn’t likely to shift focus away from company culture/the employee experience
We’ve thought so much about the “war for talent” over the last ten years and have seen the impact it’s had on employer brand, corporate reputation and talent recruitment strategies. But what happens when the economy and job market get turned on their heads? It’d be a step backward if companies started to move away from striving so intensely to offer a competitive culture, but is it likely given so many organizations’ acute financial turmoil?
Optimistically, our group thought no. In fact, today’s environment is likely to make job-seekers even more discerning than they were previously, and they will look directly to a company’s response to COVID-19 (did they prioritize people over profits?) when making decisions about where to work. Successful, high-performing organizations will continue to work on offering an exceptional employee experience and culture.
Rebecca Ellis, Ph.D., recently joined Performance Lab with nearly 20 years’ experience in learning, organization development, and change. She’s passionate about discovering opportunities to maximize human potential to deliver customer-centric solutions.
As Managing Director of the Performance Lab, Rebecca’s role is to provide strategic guidance to clients who desire to build a high-performance culture with a strategic plan to support it. Rebecca received her Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Benedictine University, and she’s also a Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP).
You can reach Rebecca at REllis@firstpersonadvisors.com.
Are you an internal communicator? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Meg to learn more about Borshoff’s internal communications networking group and the agency’s Employee Engagement and Communications practice area. Check out our Shoff Chat page to see our upcoming schedule.