It’s no secret by now. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered the world we currently live in.
Recent estimates show that nearly 4 billion people around the world are under some sort of lockdown or stay-at-home order. In other words, half of the planet now has to, mostly, stay at home.
This also means that a majority of the global workforce is now working from home. And we are relying on technology heavily to help us do so. Technology is helping us in everything from having meetings to aligning around projects and deadlines as well as keeping employees informed about critical news and updates. In short, most of what we do at work now happens via technology.
During the unfolding of the crisis at hand, we’ve seen internal communications emerge as a core function responsible for keeping staff safe and the business running. With this in mind, I was interested in taking a look at how our employee communications platform, Smarp, is being used by communicators around the world to navigate COVID-19.
The coronavirus is a hot topic right now
It’s not much of a surprise, but the coronavirus is a trending topic right now. Not only in the news and social media, but within organizations as well. When looking across all Smarp customers, we’ve seen an increase in the amount of posts made on the platform related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 as a communications topic on Smarp first began it’s steady rise around January 20th, which coincides with the virus receiving more media coverage outside of China. After a gradual increase in COVID-19 employee communications per week, we saw the sharpest increase in activity during week 11 when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. During this week, COVID-19 related employee communications nearly tripled in a matter of hours.
But it’s not only employers that have been increasing the frequency of their coronavirus crisis communications. Employees have also begun to follow the information much more closely. The week 11 pandemic declaration can be seen even clearer in the amount our customers have been engaging on Smarp.
Not only is Smarp enabling our customers to communicate to their workforces at scale about the ongoing pandemic, it is also providing employees with an easy-to-use, always available channel to stay informed and engaged.
We still haven’t seen the peak of employee communications or engagement related to COVID-19. With the virus likely to play a major role in working as well as personal life for the foreseeable future, it’s crucial to have the right communications infrastructure in place in order to reach the right employee at the right time. Smarp customers are using our platform to do just that.
What your employees are interested in
The chart above shows an explicit representation of the growing interest of employees in receiving and reading COVID-19 related employee communications on Smarp. Employees are reading material related to coronavirus faster than employers can produce them.
But employees are telling us the same thing implicitly as well. This is illustrated by the Smarp built-in enterprise search.
After the week 11 pandemic declaration by the WHO, COVID-19 became, by far, the most sought after topic on Smarp. The trend peaked during week 12, when COVID-19 related keywords accounted for nearly 18% of all searches performed on Smarp.
What the graph tells us is that, during peak weeks, employees were proactive in looking for information and communications from their employers related to the pandemic. As employers reacted and COVID-19 related communications have become more plentiful on Smarp, employees no longer have had the need to search for the information. It has been provided to them before they even needed to look for it.
Companies are actively implementing employee communications technology
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’ve witnessed internal communications emerge as a core function tasked with keeping employees safe and the business running. And this has definitely shown in customers taking up Smarp as their platform of choice to communicate across their entire organizations.
New user creation on our platform was already above average when compared with the previous 12 months in late February and early March during the weeks surrounding the WHO pandemic declaration. But that all changed when governments began taking action.
In week 13, we saw the number of new users created on Smarp shoot up to 160% above average. Uncoincidentally, week 13 also coincides with numerous government recommendations and orders related to public gatherings.
It also marked the time when a majority of the world began working remotely. As the regulations and restrictions have evolved, Smarp has continued to see extraordinary growth in new users added to the platform. This marks a new remote and non-wired working trend that we are glad to be able to help our customers with.
How top companies are using Smarp for their COVID-19 communications
To go a bit more granular, I also wanted to provide some insight on how customers have been leveraging our platform from a tactical standpoint.
There are many ways to handle employee communications during crisis situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, but here are some of the most popular ones.
Sharing relevant company policies related to COVID-19
Because the pandemic is a global phenomenon, it’s easy to forget that different locations and employees might be affected differently.
While in most cases a company-wide policy does exist, we are seeing more and more companies use Smarp to distribute policies relevant to the location and role of each employee. These targeted, relevant policies answer employee questions far better than company-wide communications.
“Is the office I work in closed?”
“What protective equipment do I need as an essential worker on the frontline?”
“What are the remote work guidelines that are applicable to me?”
When you are able to answer questions like this that are applicable on a personal level, you ensure that your workforce remains productive even during a crisis.
Surfacing COVID-19 updates from trusted sources – Automatically
Another common trend among Smarp customers is to use the built in content import as well as the A.I. Content feature to surface relevant information about the pandemic to the right employee at the right time.
With the built in content import, employers can bring news and updates from trusted sources directly to Smarp, as it happens in real time. We are seeing an increasing number of customers utilize this functionality with sources such as The World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as local news outlets.
A.I. Content allows our customers to take this concept one step further. It uses the power of A.I. to process and analyze millions of media messages a day in order to surface relevant developments based on keywords, topics, locations, organizations, people and more.
Using these two functionalities in unison has allowed Smarp customers to ensure that their workforce always has the latest and most relevant information.
Communicate across channels and devices
With a majority of the global workforce now working either remotely or as a non-wired worker, the ability to reach employees across different channels and devices has become crucial.
Smarp customers have increased their use of cross-channel communications through Smarp Publishing Studio. This has allowed them to publish in one centralized location and reach their workforce with tailored updates on mobile, desktop and email.
Additionally, the Smarp Content Booster -feature has seen a surge in usage, as organizations are using Smarp as a centralized location to publish communications to 3rd party platforms. These platforms include intranets, chat tools, enterprise social networks and digital signage, just to name a few. Content Booster has saved time for our customers by enabling them to publish to all platforms and channels with one click. And time is of the essence when communicating during a crisis.
COVID-19 campaigns & channels
Last but not least, a vast majority of Smarp customers have implemented COVID-19 campaign tags or dedicated channels in their communications.
This has allowed them to group coronavirus related news, updates and discussion all under a single source. Not only does this enable employers to quickly see how their crisis communications are being read and engaged with, it also allows employees to find all the information they need in one place.
Like illustrated in one of the earlier graphs, this has led to a reduction in the amount of time employees need to spend searching for relevant information.
During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, employees need information from a trusted source. That trusted source is now, more than ever, their employer. According to the recent Edelman Trust Barometer Survey, employers are the most credible source of information regarding COVID-19.
It has become the responsibility of employers and internal communications to keep their workers safe and informed throughout this crisis, and we are happy to see that our customers are stepping up when their employees need it the most.
To learn how an employee communications platform can help you and your organization navigate the COVID-19 crisis, click here and we can have you up and running in less than a week.