Marwa Kaabour, Head of Marketing & Corporate Communication at Al Masaood Group, explains how an effective communication strategy brought the Al Masaood family closer during the pandemic.
While some service organizations had the luxury of teleporting their service to a remote-work structure, others, industrial and automotive in nature, had to stay at the physical forefront of their work, turning their entire workforce to frontliners.
So, what would you do if a large majority of your workforce had to handle roles that cannot be performed from the safety of their homes? What if the services your organization offers are among the most sought-after by the community and the government and are much needed to cope with the changes and the new normal established by the pandemic? When faced with this reality, you, as an organization just cannot afford to take a step back and join the rest of the world in the comfort of remote working. Knowing that around 80% of your workforce is out there on the frontlines delivering mission-critical solutions while risking their own health and safety, you need to stand by them in every way possible and above all, let them know that they are cared for and their efforts are valued.
There is no doubt that a pandemic situation of this scale can test the communication efforts of any large conglomerate. However, by harnessing the true potential of genuine and transparent communication, Al Masaood Group – a highly diversified and one of the most successful family business in the UAE with more than 2,400 employees – overcame these challenges and successfully brought the company together in the face of Covid-19 disruptions, keeping the employee morale at an all-time high. Al Masaood achieved this by developing its Covid-response campaign called ‘Project Wiqaya,’ which has highly transparent, and frequent communication, both internal and external, as one of its main pillars. Our strategy is developed based on four key pillars, including:
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the month of February 2020, led to an increase in demand for services offered by the group’s various divisions, such as 24/7 servicing of car fleets, power generation and modular buildings, requiring the employees to take up double and sometimes even triple shifts and presenting health and safety challenges. Apart from rolling out a number of support measures including free Covid testing, quarantine facilities and other allowances for employees in response to the situation, Al Masaood Group swiftly put together a committee consisting of 20 executives to solely focus on pandemic communication efforts, particularly inward communication.
Frequent internal messaging and announcements kept the employees well-informed on the evolving situation and the group’s proactive ways of adapting to it in the following months. Besides, the group promoted cross-communication among its employees, providing them with appropriate information about what is going around with utmost transparency. The tone of the communication reflected compassion, gratefulness, and unity; and above all, reminded them that humanity shines through despite all the doom and gloom.
All services and arrangements were in place for employees who were affected by the disease, including assistance with treatment, hospital care and quarantine facilities. Care packages and notebooks were sent out to the employees in quarantine, enabling them to share their stories during this time, making them feel heard and most importantly, included in the narrative. The Al Masaood team spared no effort in making sure that their every need was taken care of.
Furthermore, members from the senior management, who can afford the convenience of working remotely, joined the frontliners in serving the economy during the difficult times and keeping the group’s collective spirits up. The number of Covid-19 infections and recoveries among the group’s employees was frequently communicated, and updates were shared constantly from all corners and verticals of the organization, underscoring the important decentralized communication in times of outbreak.
In terms of external communication, clear and carefully crafted messages ensured timely outward communication through the company website and social media channels, letting the community and customers know that they can continue to avail the company’s services through various channels. Besides, public relations served as an important aspect of our strategy to reinforce positive exposure through influential media coverage, improve our brand’s reputation, and communicate with our customers.
The importance Al Masaood attaches to communication once again came to the fore subsequent to the launch of the virtual sales solution during the pandemic. Believing in the importance of instilling online interaction etiquettes in its personnel, the group provided training to its customer-facing employees, equipping them with much-needed digital communication and interaction skills.
The ingenuity and the sincerity of the highly-ambitious communication efforts undertaken by the conglomerate in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak are what enabled the organization to thrive in the face of disruptions and continue to serve the economy. This was once again confirmed by an internal poll conducted by the organization, which revealed that more than 90% employees felt informed and included in the organization’s response to the crisis. In fact, they felt safe and more motivated than ever to rise up to the challenge and emerge from it stronger, fitter, and better, as one team.
Al Masaood’s success in effectively navigating an unprecedented situation such as the Covid-19 outbreak has set the bar much higher for the services industry and will serve as a model of crisis communication in the private sector in the future as well.