By Ross McCaw, CEO and founder of Bristol, UK-based OurPeople:
During the first wave of the corona pandemic the virus destroyed the events industry with all live events brought to a halt. Technology was the only option for overcoming the obstacles presented by the pandemic and it created a mad scramble for event organisers to quickly find a digital solution. In spite of this obvious hurdle to overcome, nearly three-quarters (74%) of organisers believe they benefited by becoming ‘more proficient’ in technology as a result of the challenges faced.
Facing ongoing restrictions, the industry has become increasingly hybrid, offering a blend of virtual and in-person events to accommodate as many as possible. This has led to often stretched organisers, with some staff needed on the ground and others required to remotely head up the hybrid offering.
As the latest variant sweeps across the world, new restrictions are likely to emerge resulting in potential enforced changes happening abruptly and often. Subsequently, communication between teams will be essential to ongoing operations, making sure staff have all the correct information – but this proves challenging when not all of the team are sitting behind a desk.
It’s crucial that event organisers and staff are clear on the changing restrictions so that they can address any issues immediately, ensuring attendees’ safety, whilst also allowing the event to run smoothly.
Reaching the right people with the right information
During this period of uncertainty where there are changes happening all the time, it’s critical that event organisers and staff are clear on the current measures and their role in enforcing them. However, a mistake that we see time and time again is the tendency for businesses to ‘send to all’. While this does mean that staff have the information, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have seen the information. Businesses need to find a way to engage specific employees and share targeted updates that are relevant for them. This will also help with ‘alert fatigue’ – where employees are notified about everything, which can lead to workers becoming desensitised and overwhelmed, resulting in employees potentially missing key alerts.
The best way to communicate with staff is to send short, targeted and infrequent information alerts to relay the important information for specific people.
Streamlining communication during an event
Depending on the size of the event, not all staff members will be on-site and often event organisers may bring in host agencies to assist the event, therefore there will be multiple points of contact. It’s important that internal communication is streamlined between the different players to ensure the right information reaches the right people and the event can run smoothly. Event organisers also have to be certain of who has read the key information to avoid any hiccups.
That’s why we have seen a growing trend in which employers are delivering information in bite size chunks, similar in style to social media platforms. Managers are recognising the importance of engaging with employees in ways that are familiar for them. Visual displays such as video and images now often replace text. It’s no surprise, as currently there is so much information to relay, it’s impossible to encapsulate it all in a newsletter that will probably be out-of-date by the time it arrives. Having access to the information they need via their mobiles ensures everyone in the scenario stays informed and connected. It’s also a great way to harness team culture, in what can often feel like a disconnected world.
Training for the pandemic effectively
With changes happening nearly every week, event organisers need to be sure that their staff are confident on the current government guidelines to ensure safety, but also success. But how can they do this when event teams are working remotely?
Using a centralised mobile-first platform to send employees digital quizzes will allow them to refresh their memory but also for managers to be certain of their knowledge on the situation. Managers will have access to the results where they will be able to identify and address any knowledge gaps. Employees can regularly take the tests to ensure that they have the most up to date information and managers can set pass percentages to ensure the workforce is fully trained and working as effectively as possible. It’s also crucial that employees can access files on the current guidelines, policy and procedures in one place – at OurPeople, using File Sharing, managers can make everything available to the employee via the app.
Keeping on top of staff wellbeing
While ensuring the safety of attendees is critical as the virus becomes more prevalent, the wellbeing of staff should be treated with equal measure. Staff will be under additional pressure as changes are introduced and have to be implemented quickly, which can cause them to feel overwhelmed and stressed – especially when health and safety is at risk.
It’s important that staff can speak freely about how they are feeling and can express concerns where they have them. UK research has revealed that 56% of employees have struggled with mental health or wellbeing with 80% saying it impacted their work, yet more than 67% admitted they didn’t tell their employer. This is something employers must tackle, especially when Covid is already putting a strain on people’s personal lives.
Short digital questionnaires where employees can provide anonymous feedback allows managers to get real-time insight into exactly how their frontline workers are feeling. This then gives managers the opportunity to deal with any potential issues before they become a problem. Sending shorter surveys on a regular basis can enable a much clearer picture on what is happening within the company over a longer period of time.
The most important thing right now is that the events industry makes missed or miscommunication a thing of the past. During a period of such uncertainty where events staff and organisers are under heavy pressure, having streamlined communication and information will ensure that the events industry can operate as usual.