Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate effectively given the level of noise that often surrounds us in the workplace and in our own personal lives. We are bombarded with information from multiple channels and often can feel like we are being washed along by a wave of communication.
Yet over the last 15 months, as we have all struggled with the demands and restrictions of lockdown, effective communication has become an anchor point in turbulent times. From day one of lockdown, when we launched our first daily update, the communication channels at Crawford have provided a degree of certainty in an uncertain period and have helped to ground our employees when COVID-19 has threatened to knock us over.
It may seem like a relatively straightforward thing to do but sending out our electronic bulletins at 2.30 pm every day helped to keep everyone across the UK connected as we got to grips with remote working. Through these communications, we provided information ranging from health and safety details and guidance on employee support to company updates and stories highlighting the incredible work of people across Crawford despite the impact of the pandemic.
That communication flow quickly became a two-way stream and the levels of feedback, suggestions for input, and ideas for the content we received from across Crawford were truly incredible. The impact also spread beyond Crawford as employees took to their own social media platforms to highlight the company’s support efforts – quickly creating a team of brand ambassadors because of our commitment to internal communications.
Our efforts rapidly gathered pace, as we set up our employee Facebook group and launched a new Coronavirus channel on our employee app. The scope of our communications also expanded as more and more people shared personal stories via various platforms. We began to learn so much more about who our people are not just as employees, but as individuals, as parents, as painters, as home-schoolers, as bakers, as cyclists, as footballers, as gardeners – it really has provided insights we would never have gained in an office.
We also explored ways to communicate beyond the virtual environment by doing what we referred to as ‘employee drops’. This meant on special occasions sending out gifts to our teams including Easter eggs, Christmas presents and Valentine’s Day gifts, as well as KitKats with the slogan ‘Have a break…’ in advance of our Wellbeing Week which I will discuss shortly.
Some of our efforts in the UK also had a global impact. One project involved the creation of children’s activity books to support our employees with their home-schooling efforts. Demand for the book quickly expanded and, in the end, not only were we sending copies market-wide but also to schools in the UK, Poland, Asia and the books will shortly land in Canada.
However, by far and away our biggest communications undertaking during lockdown was the already mentioned Wellbeing Week. It was a first for us on multiple fronts given the scope and scale of the event. UK-wide it brought together over 44 speakers from across Crawford and beyond for a virtual week-long event, including motivational speakers, sporting personalities and TV celebrities, as well as conducting mental and physical virtual exercise sessions.
It was a big investment, but we concluded that even if it only helped a small number of people, it would be worth it. Held during the November lockdown over 800 Crawford employees signed up to the event and it proved an incredibly successful and motivating five days – so much so that five months on the presentations and sessions conducted during the week are still regularly cited by people across the company. We also launched our Wellbeing Champions which saw our mental health first aiders retrain to take on expanded roles and our initial target of 12 UK champions has reached 25.
From weekly virtual coffee mornings with Lisa Bartlett, our UK President, to live streams with Ollie Ollerton from ‘Who Dares Wins’, to Easter eggs in the post, there are not many communications avenues that Crawford has not gone down during lockdown. It has been challenging, demanding and at times exhausting, but without hesitation the value it has delivered has made it all worthwhile.