Posted: 16 Dec. 2020 5 min. read

The future of workplace communication

Promoting employee engagement and well-being in a pandemic

We are several months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we do our jobs, maintain professional relationships, and, most importantly, communicate has drastically changed. As 2020 comes to a close, many companies are focusing on the health and safety of the workforce; however, as employers and leaders, we cannot lose sight of the overall well-being of our employees—and the mental and emotional impacts it has on each one daily.

Employee morale and well-being should be a holistic message at the forefront of each company’s workforce communications strategy. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, on a scale from “never” to “rarely,” “sometimes,” and “often,” nearly 25% of employees say they are now “often” feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Furthermore, nearly 50% of workers say that their workplace has a negative impact on their overall mental health.

As a result of the pandemic, organizations have ramped up their well-being strategies, and are trying to find ways to introduce and effectively communicate new employee well-being initiatives to their workforce. In another twist of 2020, this topic unexpectedly became one of the most important future-of-work trends.

Pandemic fatigue?

Considering well-being, most people are feeling weary, tired, and overwhelmed at this point, a concept the Wall Street Journal refers to as “pandemic fatigue” and claims to be very real—and very much on the rise.1 The outlook may appear grim to some heading into the winter months, which, in many parts of the country, mean colder weather and fewer hours of daylight, limiting options for outdoor activities, including personal socialization. Employers must understand the importance of communicating with the workforce during this critical time, in a consistent and empowering way, so employees continue to feel supported and engaged in this next wave of disruption.

The disruption that 2020 has brought solidifies the need to shift from professional messaging to personal messaging, with an intentional focus on workforce well-being. Using strategic communications, organizations can begin to address their workforces in a meaningful, intentional, and engaging way. Consider the following questions when outlining future communications strategies:

  • How are you engaging with your workforce to best understand their current needs, both in and outside of the workplace?
  • Are employees finding meaning at work? What is their current sentiment?
  • Are employees feeling supported in their personal and professional well-being?
  • How are you addressing your workforce’s needs based on insights not only today but also in the long term?
  • Have you thought about well-being as part of your culture?

How is your organization talking about well-being?

When it comes to the future of work, the way leadership communicates with their workforce (and how employees communicate with each other) has always been an important topic. In addition to health concerns amid the pandemic, the switch to remote work also affects many employees’ well-being. When outlining communications, leadership must carefully craft not only the words they choose to communicate with but also the tone they use—bearing in mind employees’ potential sensitivities. Therefore, well-being communications initiatives have become paramount, and communications experts have become critical strategic partners for executives.

How can you boost well-being workplace engagement with strategic communications?

  • Share knowledge. Diversify your channels, and reiterate key messages across the board. What resources are available? If well-being is a priority, employees should see and feel that priority through the abundance of resources and information.
  • Convey the importance of time away from work. Well-being is personal, with no one-size-fits-all solution. How and when someone uses their personal time off is just that: personal. Encourage your people to create a tailored well-being plan and utilize resources that fit their needs, and empower them to think about well-being not just as vacation time, but also as time throughout the day to focus on their well-being.
  • Engage employees. Employees listen to other employees. And now, more than ever, employees trust their employers, as well. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that “my employer” was the most trusted institution—by 18 points over the business in general and nongovernmental organizations and by 27 points over government and media).[2] Remember to include personal stories in formal communications, have “real talk” forums, and hold events for specific groups in the workforce, such as veterans or parents. Most importantly, using testimonials from all career levels and roles in the organization brings well-being to life.
  • Assessing impact. Continually ask for feedback, and track communications and well-being program metrics. Evaluate what current programs are not hitting the mark, and plan for action if anything needs to be changed.

Being able to deliver relevant well-being information to the right employee at the right time has become a must. Remember, employees expect to find the information they are interested in at their fingertips, just as they do through their favorite social media channels, and the same goes for communications in the workplace. Employees want the information to find them where they are—not the other way around.

While once we may have thought that the future way of working was years away, it is the present-day reality, based on the significant disruptions we have experienced in 2020. As we transition into the future way of working and all the pros and cons that come with these changes, we must remember to keep our well-being at the center of our relationships and communications with the workforce.


Melissa Yim

Michael Gilmartin


1 Stacy Meichtry, Joanna Sugden, and Andrew Barnett, “Pandemic Fatigue Is Real—And It’s Spreading,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020.
2 Edelman, “Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on COVID 19 Demonstrates Essential Role Of The Private Sector,” accessed November 2, 2020. 


Get in touch

Melissa Yim

Melissa Yim

Senior Manager | Deloitte Consulting, LLP

Melissa leads the Strategic Communications practice within Human Capital and is responsible for overseeing and executing engagement tasks. She has more than 15 years of communications experience and is an innovative communications expert credited with building and delivering business plans and marketing strategies in alignment with client and corporate goals. Melissa is focused on building the employer/employee relationship through strategic communications building understanding and adoption of the changes they are encountering. Melissa has the ability to create and execute marketing and communications campaigns and solutions for Fortune 100 companies—conceptualizing and guiding the design, development, implementation, and management of key programs. Her expertise is in leadership and employee communications HR management domains, total rewards, and benefits.