Podcasts, town halls, intranet serve as inspiration for TD Bank during pandemic

TD Bank’s corporate and public affairs team create a comprehensive internal comms plan to support and inform employees during COVID-19.

TD Bank's COVID-era comms tips

Like many organizations, TD Bank’s planning for 2020 was shattered as the COVID- 19 pandemic hit.

The impact of COVID-19 was felt early as TD, one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S. with more than 25,000 employees, has a strong presence in New York and its headquarters in New Jersey.

These areas were the first to experience the devastation and made it critical for its Corporate and Public Affairs (CAPA) team to rapidly pivot its focus for internal communications. CAPA works closely with HR and other teams to plan a calendar for the year.

The bank implemented policies to protect its customers and colleagues, while supporting its communities to help in any way it could. Internal communications were vital in this environment where uncertainty abounded. It understood
the gravity of the situation and knew the only way the bank could navigate it was to ensure all employees understood the actions being taken and emphasizing they are the key to success.

The CAPA team immediately went to work and defined the strategies. There was no playbook from which to build, as no one had experienced this type of event before. Here are some of the key strategies that were agreed upon.

Strategies:

  • Get ahead of colleague asks for information, where possible.
  • Create a consistent, continuous cadence of information.
  • Leverage technology as an equitable platform to create dialogue.
  • Amplify the voice of its CEO as a strong steady leader during a time of uncertainty.
  • Elevate the visibility of senior leaders and local site leaders.

Upon deciding on the key strategies, CAPA then had to quickly decide on the best way to act to reach its employees, most of whom were working from home.

Below are the key tactics in its program:

Tactics:

  • CAPA partnered across the enterprise to populate a COVID-19 resource page, which answered frequently asked questions, shared up-to-date procedures on building access, face coverings, travel policies and more.
  • Each communication was branded by IT with a targeted email banner and link access to the COVID-19 resource page and advice hotline in each footer. It created physical signage where needed to ensure any colleague required to be onsite was aware of procedures and restrictions.
  • Teams utilized familiar applications to stay connected versus introducing new technologies and creating a learning curve. Platforms like Slido allowed colleagues to ask questions, and WebEx created forums for leaders to host live chats.
  • The TD CEO hosted his first and only all-employee town hall where people across TD were able to hear directly from him, live, and for those unable to join could watch the recording on the intranet. Nearly 10,000 colleagues heard the live event or viewed the video recording on the intranet. There are considerations to host a 2021 town hall across TD.
  • In addition, the TD CEO was scripted along with its Head of HR as they hosted weekly WebEx calls with all executives across the company. The CEO also made guest appearances at virtual town halls so employees within the Lines of Business and Corporate Functions heard from him directly.
  • It created a new series, the “What Inspires Me” campaign, which featured weekly inspirational quotes from senior leaders sent directly to all employee’s email. These quotes addressed both the COVID-19 pandemic and other important issues, such as the racial Injustice movement that impacted all Americans during 2020.
  • CAPA also supported senior leaders across the company through weekly communications including newsletters and videos that offered a mix of lighthearted content, important updates and a look inside their work from home spaces. The intent of these newsletters was to keep colleagues engaged and connected during this time. Colleagues were asked to share their own spaces, recipes, photos, stories and other content. The frequency of these newsletters varied per business. While many were weekly, some businesses preferred monthly since they already had numerous other communications that were going out to colleagues.
  • Maintain a consistent voice. Because many different business lines work within its offices, the bank established a Site Commander Program, a designated senior executive, for each site. This was one of the ways it communicated cleaning procedures, physical distancing measures, proactive contact tracing initiatives, local government directives, and more. Posters were hung around buildings to reinforce messages.
  • The intranet site, TeamWOW!, was used to communicate key information and messaging through news and features stories that focused on what employees needed to know about the bank’s actions for colleagues, customers and communities. TeamWow expanded content with a new podcast, The Power of WOW, that showcased interviews with important leaders during this time, including TD Chief Medical Director, Dr. Vipan Nikore.
  • First launched in May 2020, The Power of WOW included five episodes and attracted more than 20,000 downloads. Each piece of content at TD is given an engagement score and the podcast episodes scored as some of the highest performing content in 2020. Hosted by an external partner, Scott Monty, the show has covered social impact, diversity and inclusion, medicine, how TD adapted to working from home and of course, banking. Originally intended to feature internal guests, we expanded our scope and featured luminaries such as Ted Kennedy Jr. and Haben Girma.

Its internal communication has been cited by management throughout the bank for the support it provided to employees. While it continues to hone its communications continually, the initial plan created in the late winter of 2020 has proven to be the backbone of its success throughout the tumultuous year.

Carmen Fleetwood Paul is senior writer and editor, corporate and public affairs, for TD Bank.

This story appears in Ragan’s Top Case Studies in Employee Communications and Culture guidebook, which you can access here.

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