COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the establishment of communication systems, to educate mining staff on the pandemic; implement COVID-19-specific security measures; as well as keep staff up to date with important statistics.

Read more: SA’s COVID-19 Occupational Health Outbreak Response Team

The world as we know it has changed. We’re facing a global pandemic that has rewritten the way we live and work. In order to survive, businesses have had to embrace remote working to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, while still meeting KPIs. And at the centre of it all, they have also had to set up cost-effective and energy-efficient mining communication systems.

If you are a mining company looking to set up COVID-19 mining communication systems, it’s easy and actionable if you choose the correct systems. And it is important that these systems enable you to quickly and efficiently respond and update employees on COVID-19-related matters

Read more: Securing mining supply chains under COVID-19 lockdown

Communication systems have changed greatly using digital channels. You’re able to respond almost immediately using defined channels to speak to specific groups of people; educating and sharing in their language in a range of options. Thus greatly reducing your carbon footprint whilst keeping your budget in check. Let’s explore your options and go a bit more in-depth.

Digital channels are a key differentiator as they are quick, cost-effective and have no borders. For this reason, we encourage our mining clients to embrace digital as one of their key mining communication systems. There are also a few traditional methods that are cost-effective and simple to execute.

Email newsletters

Internal newsletters may already form part of your communication desk. They are a great way to reach your administrative staff, however, remember they may not reach workers in the field who do not have company email addresses or access to devices to receive them. With this in mind, your communication can be tailored to administrative users.

Email templates

Need to send out an urgent COVID-19 update on the go without setting up a newsletter? You can get a branded email template set up, which allows you to write and distribute your emails on the go, whilst respecting the company brand. Remember to check your spelling carefully.


Noticeboards

Noticeboards are a quick and efficient way to communicate with employees, especially when placed in high-traffic areas for maximum effect; so they are worth doing well.

A planned system brings neatness and structure to your noticeboard. It allows for reactive content (e.g. urgent notices) and planned content (e.g. monthly safety statistics). Our noticeboard system utilises a smart installation with easily updated frames for content. The content prioritises safety, CSI initiatives, employee wellness campaigns and culture-building programmes in addition to company news.

Digital screens

Digital screens are one of our favourite internal communication systems. A well-placed screen can update and inform employees in any high-traffic area, with the reward of strong engagement. Once you’ve determined your design style, a template can be created for internal updates, which is on-brand and quick to edit.

Screens are perfect for welcome messages; safety messages; health and safety campaigns; awareness programmes and more. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been producing a lot of digital screen content for our clients, covering ‘correct mask usage’, ‘handwashing steps’, COVID-19 protocol and more. This has enabled them to continually remind their contractors and workers to follow procedures.

WhatsApp messages and videos

We believe WhatsApp hasn’t fully been explored yet. With the exception of SMS, it’s about the only form of communication that allows you to “push” your content to your audience (since the push factor can be turned off on email). You can send text, images, video and audio and can send it to a broadcast group, or an intimate group. It is suitable for both external and internal communications, however, we’d focus on using it more for team communications. WhatsApp for Business is for the small business, but also has features that can be utilised for team communications at your mine. We recently produced a simple WhatsApp video for a client, which covered COVID-19 protocols at the company. It was easy to share with all team members and helped to reinforce their mission of safety on the site.

Facebook groups

The difference between a page and a group is that you can make a group private and it’s a space for dialogue, as opposed to your Facebook page, which is more of a broadcast tool. We like Facebook groups for learning applications, or as a space for employee engagement, e.g. as part of your employer branding and graduate campaigns. You can use the ‘Units’ functionality as an educational tool, and Facebook live video to talk to your members. If you have a group in place you can share coronavirus-related news and have discussions with team members about the subject.

LinkedIn groups

A LinkedIn group can be either external or internal, but it is used more for business, networking and related discussions, than as a primary communication tool. It, like your LinkedIn page, provides a perfect space to set yourself up as a thought leader or for prospective candidates to look at your company in the job-seeking world. By sharing your successes in how you are dealing with the pandemic, you are able to share with stakeholders the steps you have taken.

Intranet

Your intranet can function as a perfect digital message board, storage hub and news source for people. We like to use it as an access point for important company documents and notifications.

Toolbox talks

A toolbox talk is an informal group discussion, which focuses on safety issues. It is a great way to promote safety culture and keep staff up to date with health and safety measures, like COVID-19 protocols for example. If you plan and design your toolbox talk well, you are able to take serious issues and turn them into interesting, yet simple messages, so that all employees, regardless of their literacy levels, can grasp the topic at hand.

Translation

Remember, not all of your employees are English speaking. To avoid language barriers, you need to translate English communication into a range of languages like French, Portuguese, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Setswana, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic covers a lot of complex topics, and it is important that you translate these topics into languages that are understood by all employees.

This article was written by marketing company Halo Media to assist in the navigation of communication challenges that may be faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.