2 June 2021


New Media’s internal communications specialists share their biggest learnings from the year that redefined employee engagement.

2020 was a real watershed for internal communications as a discipline. When South Africa – and most of the world – went into lockdown and so many offices and factories closed, internal comms teams were on the frontline, delivering critical messaging with dizzying speed – educating, updating, connecting, reassuring and inspiring employees every day.

And our team of internal comms experts was right there, working shoulder to shoulder with our clients through it all: from crisis communications, health and safety reminders and COVID-19 survivor stories to return-to-office messaging, spirit-level surveys, emotional wellbeing campaigns and vaccine education.

A year (and a bit) on, New Media’s internal communications specialists share their biggest lessons from the year that redefined employee engagement.

Carryn Dewing, Head of Internal Communications

“Trust is everything. Last year really drove home how imperative it is that internal comms teams close the feedback loop. Publishing poll and survey results indicates transparency; responding quickly to comments and queries builds trust – and it’s these interactions that keep employee communities alive and well in unsettling times. Employers who invest in the trust relationship with honest and open communication will see the returns in engaged employees who’re committed to putting in the hard yards to rebuild in a vastly changed landscape.”

A quote from New Media Head of Internal Communications Carryn Dewing
Atka Young

Atka Young, Head of Content Strategy

“Employees showed incredible resilience in 2020. Internal communications strategies need to adapt at the same rate as employees, if not faster. The challenge will be to create spaces for connection, community and collaboration. As employees continue to work remotely, it becomes impossible to separate happy at work and happy at home – and we should expect an even greater focus on wellbeing, navigating our future hybrid working realities.”

Wayne Cornelius

Wayne Cornelius, Account Manager

“The pandemic brought internal communications to the forefront quickly and meaningfully. With physical distancing measures in place, employee communication became the primary way to promote closeness between people in organisations.”

Sarah Borchert

Sarah Borchert, Lead Editor

“Through a disrupted year for so many of our FMCG clients, I developed a really deep appreciation of just how hard they work to show communities and governments that they give back too. Part of our role as internal comms practitioners is to help employees understand the connection between doing the right thing and the future of the company they work for.”

Janine Oelofse

Janine Oelefse, Digital Editor

“Last year was proof that good, regular and relevant internal comms delivered with care and compassion can mean the difference between a company that pivots with agility in a crisis and one that falls into panic mode.”

Christopher Evans

Christopher Evans, Group Art Director

“Internal comms teams are talking more about campaign-style comms, with hard ROIs. We’re seeing more HR involvement with strong wellness and inclusion themes. Climate change, diversity and women in leadership are big themes across our major brands – and they’re not going anywhere. Employees are time-pressed and have shorter attention spans but communication has increased, so messages and campaigns need to be more strategic.”

Nita Nagar

Nita Nagar, Art Director

“2020 taught me that anything’s possible. We need to embrace change and be open to new ways of thinking and working. Imagine the possibilities when we do!”

Shaakira Titus

Shaakira Titus, Art Director

“2020 reminded me how much humans really crave interaction and how we need this fix to sustain good mental health and happy feels. With opportunities for physical social interaction being limited, internal comms became the tool to fill that void for employees. Creating engaging content for audiences and seeing their interaction, appreciation and their need for more was just so inspiring to me.”

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Looking to revise your internal comms strategy to keep pace with the constantly changing world of work? Our specialist internal comms division is here to help. Contact us today.

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