Inauguration Day and Internal Communications

Courtney Ellul from our partner agency, Peppercomm, explains how communicators and leaders can support employees through uncertain and stressful moments. These top ten tips, although taken from Peppercomm’s Inauguration Playbook, can benefit us all in the coming months as we navigate through the difficult times of the pandemic.

Inauguration Day and Internal Communications
Supporting employees through this unique time in America’s history

By Courtney Ellul, partner, Peppercomm

Today is Inauguration Day and emotions are running high (they sure are for me!). U.S. employees, and perhaps others across the globe, are likely to be distracted, tense, even stressed. At Peppercomm, we have created an Inauguration Playbook to help leaders, communicators and HR professionals navigate today and beyond and support employees in a truly human way. Below are some of the most relevant tips for the big day: 20 January, 2021.

Remember the human side of work. What happens in society is also felt in the workplace. In fact, one of the key shifts that we saw in 2020 was a real melding of our personal and professional lives and a recognition by employers to look at the complete life experience of employees, not just the ‘employee experience’. Today, employees are looking for organizations to communicate in simple human language that speaks directly to their needs and demonstrates clear empathy and compassion.

Ask, don’t assume. Don’t assume it’s just business as usual for employees today. Check in with your workforce to understand how they feel and what they need – they may just want a little time away from work to watch the news. And lean on the wisdom of your Employee Resource Groups if you have them.

Be vocal and visible. Be proactive today with your workforce (even those outside the US can benefit from hearing your POV) – acknowledge the unique climate; remind employees that their needs matter and to lean on managers and leadership if they have concerns; continue to describe how the organization will support its employees and where to go for resources and information (such as your EAP); and re-iterate the company’s internal and external communication policies. Equally important, encourage people managers to check in with their direct reports.

Remain true to your values. As you communicate with your workforce today, remind employees why it is critical to remain true to your core values and purpose. Leaders should also remind people the importance keeping discourse in the workplace respectful. Set clear expectations for behavior –what is permissible, what is not.

Identify ways to find common ground and unite. As you’re communicating with employees, don’t just focus on the here and now. Re-iterate the company’s vision for the future, where employees can play a critical role, and all the ways in which they can find common ground and unite. It’s also important to think more broadly about how you can form stronger bonds with your employees for the long-term. Some companies, like Peppercomm, have embraced comedy training to build bonds and develop other useful skills; some organizations have adopted resilience training to help employees deal with stressful situations.

On building resilience, Silja Litvin, Psychologist and CEO and Founder of PsycApps Digital Mental Health, has this to say: “Eventually the dust will settle and organizations will need a broader, longer-term solution on building resilient employees and resilient workplaces. This can be achieved by providing resilience training and resources to help employees better connect and navigate through stressful situations and reach a state of emotional fitness: that is, the state of our mind where we are able to focus on constructive and creative tasks while we manage to stay away from negative thoughts. Emotional fitness allows us to overcome life challenges and communicate with people holding diverse and maybe adverse opinions without anger and escalation.”


A partner at Peppercomm, Courtney helps organizations create strong employer brands and improve employee engagement. She spearheads the internal communications efforts for several B2B clients in the U.S. and in Europe and manages global integrated campaigns.