Why a new paradigm for internal comms is needed to keep your team engaged by Rob Edmonds

By Guest Contributor Rob Edmonds

Home working continues and many people are finding it hard. When team members only see you, and each other, on a screen, it can lead to feeling of isolation, evidenced by the increasing levels of mental health issues, presenteeism and absenteeism. Your internal comms activity is a vital part of ensuring your teams stay productive and fully engaged.



Absenteeism is people not showing up for work, but what about presenteeism? The latter has become a much bigger issue [i]  since the start of the pandemic. Presenteeism is the loss of productivity that takes place when people turn up for work, but don’t get very much done. It costs businesses far more than absenteeism and is largely un-trackable.



Internal comms is all about communicating your company values, vision, objectives and goals to your internal teams. The engagement between your business and your staff impacts the resultant productivity of your staff. Which is why it is so important to get it right.

If you haven’t yet reviewed your internal comms strategy and processes, now is the time to start. The longer you leave it, the bigger the problem it can create, and the more difficult it will be to solve. You may find that the loss in productivity, as well as the loss of staff (i.e. people leaving), can be devastating to the business. So, you need to be on top of your internal comms and ensure that any potential issues are nipped in the bud.



When starting to make changes to your internal comms, what do you need to do? These are our recommended steps:


  1. Measure the current situation

Without measuring [ii] the current situation, there is no way to develop a new paradigm. You cannot set new goals without knowing how you are currently performing. Measures need to look at both the end results and at the tools being used.

  • Productivity: is this where you want it to be, and has it changed since the beginning of 2020?
  • Absenteeism: is the business still within acceptable levels? Has it changed in the last year?
  • Understanding: how many of your teams understand the vision, values and goals of the business?


  1. Set new goals

With a largely remote workforce, your internal communications goals may need to change. A, hopefully, short-term strategy may need to take precedence over the longer-term strategy, which can then be revisited once “normality” returns with the majority of people vaccinated against Covid.

I’m not suggesting they go in opposite directions; merely that a slight detour may be needed. One that focuses on the immediate needs of your staff, if they are to help the business achieve both its short and long term goals.

SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) goals to be considered include:

  • Engagement with messaging tools – email, video, intranet content
  • Informal communication levels, both quality and quantity
  • Productivity levels
  • Absenteeism
  • Customer satisfaction levels


  1. What are the messages?

What do you want staff to do, to think and to believe? Some messages may stay the same as those you are currently using (unless the company has pivoted dramatically), but many will change.

Testing specific messages on small groups is recommended. Get the opinions of people outside the internal comms team to validate the messages. This way you will help to ensure you get them right, and that people will understand them and engage with them. Sometimes it’s easy to assume too much or to miss the obvious if you are very close to the issue, so make sure people outside the comms team understand the messages too.


  1. Develop the new plan

For a new internal communications paradigm to work, you have to prove you know your colleagues. Getting them involved is a crucial part of ensuring that the new plan will deliver for both the company and for the teams. After all, without the teams, there is no company!

Right now, it isn’t possible to gather people in the same room, but, hopefully, that shouldn’t be too far away. Tools such as Zoom, Teams or even vWall [iii] allow you to gather people and ideas together. The internal comms team is then responsible for the implementation of that plan.


  1. Get buy-in

Having people from across the company involved in the development of the plan should mean they buy into it. They’ve had the opportunity to contribute, to discuss, to challenge and to come to an agreement with a plan they all believe will work. Now “all you need” is management buy-in.

Management is always eager to achieve the goals that help them to achieve the business plan. So, ensure that, when presenting the plan, it is all about how this will help with the business’ goals. Be specific; outline the problem and its impact and then show how the new plan will address that problem and reduce or eliminate its impact.


  1. Develop and produce the collateral

Multi-channel communications programmes are always more effective than single-channel programmes.

  • Video: takes time to script, film, edit and sign-off. Current restrictions may mean talking heads are easier to do.
  • Print: has to designed, printed and distributed so it is in place at the right time.
  • Email: drafting and agreeing content and supporting imagery takes time.

These are just some examples. The key here is time. Time to develop and produce the collateral needs to be built into the schedule to ensure that the messages are delivered when they are needed.


  1. Measure and adapt

As with any internal communications marketing plan, you have to measure frequently to ascertain whether it is achieving its goals. Whilst you need to allow time for change to take place, you cannot leave it too long. If aspects of the plan aren’t working, you need to know soon, so adaptations can be made.

With the country in some form of lockdown, until at least early Spring, you have time to develop and implement a plan to ensure staff, whether remote or on-site are always engaged. But the sooner you start, the sooner you will see results.

Some changes will be easy to spot. Email open rates, video views – both are immediately visible. Improvements in customer satisfaction or productivity will take longer to identify, so don’t expect miracles.

Remember, the sooner the plan is started, the sooner you will start to see results.   And the benefits will stay with your business well beyond the current situation.

[i] https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/cipd-voice/Issue-25/managing-challenge-workforce-presenteeism-covid-19-crisis

[ii] https://nrg-digital.co.uk/2020/10/08/the-measurement-challenge-and-overcoming-it/

[iii] https://vwall.org/


Rob Edmonds is Founder and Creative Director at NRG Digital, a visual communications agency with a passion for all things creative. Their clients treat them as a strategic partner, creating authentic content that inspires audiences and elevates brands. Formed in 2002, the team has grown significantly, winning an Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) award for Best Change/Transformation Communication in 2020. NRG Digital works across the UK, Europe and the US, supporting clients with their internal and external communications campaigns.


Web: https://nrg-digital.co.uk

Twitter: @NRG_Digital

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nrgdigital1/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nrg_digital/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nrgdigital/

Suggested Reading

Everyone who holds a position of leadership regardless of their experience or scale, has five key Vantage Points from which they can build positive momentum and high performance. This book introduces these Vantage Points and provides highly practical examples of how leaders can use these in their daily approach to leading teams of brilliant people.

Vantage Points, invites leaders everywhere to consciously broaden their awareness via the exploration of the key Vantage Points. With this heightened awareness, great leaders can learn to focus their attention on their two primary jobs: creating clarity and space for individuals and teams to thrive. Vantage Points is a resource designed to support leaders in becoming more intentional in their actions and human centred interventions to enable and celebrate the shared collective endeavour of their team.

More information




Leaders in Lockdown is a unique insight from the women and men who were on the front line of leading the business world’s fight against COVID-19. From New York to Singapore to Hong Kong to the City of London, it captures a remarkable moment in time – when the global economy was brought to a shuddering halt in the struggle to contain a deadly pandemic. These first-hand accounts of 100 days of lockdown tell stories of leadership in a crisis. They also share the wisdom of some of the world’s most thoughtful business leaders as they predict how the world will change because of COVID-19.

More information






As working environments develop through new 21st century structures, the problems and difficulties they face also become even more complex and difficult to understand, explain and resolve. The ways in which we express these processes are now patterned through a mixture of wording and imagery; diagrams and charting which help to explain trends and visualise long-term sustainable goals. From thinking, doing, working, planning and prioritizing, through to presenting, selling, negotiating, progressing in your career, or just plain fooling around, this highly practical book provides effective tools and guidelines to help anyone who wants to be more efficient and outstanding.

After the runaway success of The Diagrams Book, Kevin Duncan returns to combine his experience and expertise into an interactive visual guide. A guide to assess your competency to problem-solving and challenge you to further construct new ideas through visual and diagrammed solutions, for greater improvements in all sectors of life.

More information