Communicating with employees in our next normal

Gillian Smith, Managing Partner at NATIONAL, talks employee communication during the pandemic and beyond.

Employee communications is no longer a nice to have. It’s a must have. The first months of the pandemic forced leaders to leapfrog their communication skills and practices. And now, as we settle into this new normal – as temporary as we hope it’ll be – Gillian Smith, Managing Partner at NATIONAL, encourages leaders to prepare for the marathon ahead.

In this episode of the LeaderLab, Gillian offers key ways leaders can better inform, support and motivate employees through communications. Here are some of Gillian’s practical takeaways:

Pay attention to the personal cues that show up on your screen. Meeting employees in their homes can present powerful insights that can help you better support your employees and build more meaningful connections with them.

Acknowledge your own humanity to encourage others to share theirs. Be open about your uncertainties or worries, show empathy, address mental health challenges and ask engaging questions to foster two-way conversations.

It’s time to set a new pace that will lead your team through the marathon of this pandemic. Assess and adjust your communication practices to create a new sense of normalcy. Take a look at your messaging, too, focusing their attention on what lies ahead for your business and your team.

Meet Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is Managing Partner at NATIONAL, one of Canada’s leading PR firms. Gillian brings with her more than 20 years’ experience in public relations and strategic communications. Before joining NATIONAL, she led her own consultancy, advising a portfolio of C-suite and Board clients across multiple industries. Over her career, Gillian has held senior positions with multiple organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and currently serves on the Boards of several arts-based organizations in Toronto. In 2018, Gillian ran in the Ontario provincial election.


TILTCO is a boutique consulting company that helps leaders define and execute their strategies in order to achieve extraordinary business and personal results. Founded by Tineke Keesmaat, she brings her 20 years of leadership consulting experience rooted at McKinsey & Company and Accenture to supports today’s leaders achieve exceptional results.