The pandemic has changed the world. Medical implications aside, Covid-19 has been the most decisive push for technology for over a decade. In the quarantine chaos and public crisis, while some businesses have closed, others have entered a new stage of development: for example, the wealth of Zoom founder Eric Subrah Yuan surged $6.6 billion in just 24 hours.
The realities of business have changed, but human relationships have not. People locked down at home have become even more dependent on solid information [DL1] and open dialogue with their employers.
Parimatch Chief Communications Officer Daria Isakova shares her experience of building effective communication during a crisis in a company with over one thousand employees.
Step 1. Distribute Areas of Responsibility
In case of any troubles within the company, you need to put together a crisis handling council to define responsibilities and appoint performers. This is what we did during the pandemic: before the official lockdown, we gathered top managers from key streams to get a complete picture of the state of the business. We needed to find out whether or not the company was coping with the current crisis.
Since Parimatch settled the crisis under control the next logical step was to collect feedback from employees through the company's managers assisted by the HR and communications departments.
Top managers are an excellent tool for understanding employee pain and anxiety. Here managers act as a filter: gossip [DL3] and minor issues are settled in kitchens and smoking rooms, with only major concerns being more widely considered.
Step 2. Work Out Employees’ Pain Points
Our HR colleagues took it upon themselves to tackle all the basic issues: possible salary delays, bonuses, how insurance should work in a pandemic, what to do in lockdown, how to organize a workplace at home. The HR department switched to emergency mode to focus on these and dozens of other issues.
The role of internal communications was to ensure employees received timely answers to all these questions. Together with the HR team, we worked out simple instructions ranging from office rules to “How to organize a workplace at home.” It was essential to answer as many of our colleagues’ queries as possible because if you don’t, people are quick to come up with answers for you.
Information hygiene was another important task: we gave colleagues advice on avoiding information overload and offered information from trusted sources only.
Step 3. Define Crisis Communication Format
Here's what we came up with for communication in crisis:
Once or twice a week, we published a digest of all vital company news: instructions on insurance claims, organizational issues, official statistics, useful online courses, and entertaining content that helped distract colleagues from the uncertainty of the quarantine situation.
This was a video interview with top management. Under lockdown conditions, it was essential to set up communication between management and employees to show that we are all human—that everyone is adjusting to new realities and finding exciting ways out of the situation. The guys not only openly shared their difficulties but also suggested solutions to problems, sometimes quite funny ones. For example, our head of support, Tatiana Lyubchenko, told us how she’d set up an office in her bathroom.
How the interview helped:
- distracted employees from information noise
- showed how like-minded people in the company experience limitations
- encouraged more open communication between colleagues and top managers
Before lockdown became part of the routine, some colleagues fell into apathy and depression. It was also difficult for our team, so we organized weekly webinars with a psychologist who gave advice and general recommendations on living with the new realities of quarantine. Anyone could sign up and get support.
Each of the formats had its own result—we frequently received much gratitude and excellent reviews. It was important for people to understand that they were not alone, that the company was aware of their experiences and already working on solutions.
Step 4. Transform Existing Formats
The pandemic has only intensified Parimatch's technological transformation. The new realities made it clear that it was impossible to wait, and it was time for the business to return the technical debt. So, if communications are the company's voice, they need to transform together with the company.
For example, the company turned an internal event, PM GO, into a major business conference, widely discussed outside the industry. We could adapt and open up new opportunities for online events for Parimatch.
What is the impact from PM GO for the business environment :
- proved themselves as a tech company that shapes global trends
- declared themselves as a media platform that can organize an international conference of incredible complexity
- increased the reach of the audience to promote the brand through exciting speakers and relevant topics
What is the impact from PM GO for employees:
- showed the company's ambitions in the international market, which made it clear that the company has comprehensive plans and a lot of strength, and everyone in the company has a development perspective
- gave a feeling of involvement in an important event and pride in your company
To create clarity and focus on company affairs, we have launched regular Town Halls. For important news, an announcement of structural changes, and the company's course there is now its own event focused on the company's life. A Town Hall is a place for open communication between employees and managers, where everyone can openly or anonymously ask about the company's future or any other topic they happen to be interested in.
How the Pandemic Has Affected Communications
Anti-crisis communications created a demand for open and honest dialogue in the company. When colleagues are warned of changes and feel cared for, they experience less stress, become more resilient, and keep working calmly. This helps the business to get through peak times of crisis without losing productivity.
Thanks to quarantine, we know how to set up internal communication in an organization, generate ideas, deal with fears, and maintain a healthy atmosphere despite the global crisis.
I believe open communication is an indication of caring for people because, at Parimatch, people are our biggest asset. If our approach is close to you, visit Vacancies in Parimatch and join us. Hope to see you soon!