WEDNESDAY 25 NOV 2020 3:19 PM


Communicate’s magazine virtual conference explored the different challenges internal communications professionals have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, from remote working practices, to furloughed staff and mental wellbeing.

The first case study of the ‘Internal communications and the challenges of Covid-19,’ conference focused on energising the workforce to cope with the impact of Covid-19. The experience of Joanna Parsons, head of IC at An Garda Síochána, was used as a case study to explore the different ways in which the 180,000 workforce was kept informed and engaged with key safety information. The IC team used light humour to communicate to the police force what social distancing looks like and how it should be practiced, both on duty and in the back office.

“The key is to cut through the noise,” said Parsons as she explained low attention employees often bring to IC emails, she added that the information has to be clear and quick to read.

The second session, on reintegrating employees after furlough, featured Naomi Jones, communications director at Suez  recycling and recovery UK who discussed the best practices for supporting staff going on and during furlough. She talked about producing manager and employee briefing packs, holding informal one to one calls with managers every week, and creating company awards to help the staff feel recognised.

When reboarding, Jones stressed, it is important to bring the teams together and focus on the ‘we are all one company’ tone and send a clear message of the importance of being on furlough to keep the business afloat. In addition, there was a focus on coaching line managers, and reiterating a clear purpose and clarity around each employee’s role.

The conference also focused on the important topic of mental health and the responses employers have supported their staff’s health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Employee and change comms director at Sodexo, Max Puller, discussed  some key initiatives that the company used to keep people safe, not only physically but especially mentally, such as working very closely with human resources, always directing employees to the central intranet hub where all information and material is storied and running a few specific campaigns highlighting the support and resources available.

International healthcare company Bupa focused on including senior leaders in the mental wellbeing discussion throughout the pandemic.

“We got our senior leaders to talk about how they were or weren’t coping during Covid-19 and being honest about that. We encouraged them to have very open conversations on a regular basis,” says Mairi Doyle, director of IC and wellbeing at Bupa.

The conference was sponsored by Nucco Brain and theTeam.

Communicate magazine will be holding the in-person Internal Communications and Engagement Conference on 28 September 2021. To book tickets, click here. Tickets booked by 8 January will receive a 50% off.