PayPal India's Pooja Sabharwal shares her experience with internal communication strategies during COVID

Pooja Sabharwal addressing the panel on internal communications for PRPOI

The pandemic has put a spotlight on what has traditionally been one of the less spoken about functions – internal communications. What could be a quick huddle between teams on the office floor are now reduced to virtual catchups. As much as technology has brought us closer in these times, the risk of being ‘digitally connected yet emotionally disconnected’ runs high across organizations.

And the role of internal communications now needs to pivot towards being the bridge between technology and empathy. My experience during the pandemic can be classified across phases.

Listen to solve

Phase 1 was when the pandemic was just setting in and it was critical to educate employees about their safety. During this phase we purely focused on building trust within the employees that their safety will not be compromised in the course of conducting business. This meant safety measures at the workplace, sanitization, finally culminating into working from home. This was an important phase, as regular check-in with employees and letting them know of the organizational initiatives also helped build trust. This helped us listen to them better, identify challenges of working from home and rework strategies to help them overcome these challenges.

Listen to celebrate

Phase 2 is something we are still discovering. This is a mix of people letting down their guard against the virus, a fatigue of being at home for over six months and possible involuntary push from within to lead a normal life. We are extensively using technology to give employees an experience that would not make them miss office much – like virtual birthday celebrations, non-work team catch ups – as this phase gets longer, our assessment is that employees are missing the smallest of celebrations at work. Never before has there been a need to celebrate life more. Our employees now help us identify reasons to celebrate.

I do not think anyone has cracked the recipe to the secret sauce of internal communications. But the bedrock of the entire process is to listen to employees and use those conversations as a pivot to define a strategy.

These are unprecedented times, and there might be no correct strategy to us see through this – but if the heart can listen with empathy – we might just be able to work wonders.

Written exclusively for PRmoment India by, Pooja Sabharwal, head of communications, PayPal India, as part of an editorial partnership with PRPOI.

The entire discussion can be watched here: