COVID-19 Crisis Communications and Well-Being


In March 2020, COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, took the world by surprise. The global pandemic created a great deal of uncertainty and took an economic and psychological toll on many individuals, businesses and communities across the globe. AECOM, a global organization with over 56,000 employees across 7 continents, first felt the impact of the coronavirus within their Asia-Pacific businesses. It quickly spread across Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) and to the Americas, requiring leadership to take swift action to protect the AECOM business and its number one asset, its global employees.

AECOM knew that one of the biggest challenges it would face would be supporting the health, safety and well-being of its employees. One major concern was helping employees maintain social distance, while also managing the new responsibilities associated with working from home and the general anxiety and stress surrounding the pandemic itself. Safety and well-being have long been priorities for AECOM and key elements of its culture, but no one knew what to expect with the pandemic and what resources would be needed to support employees immediately and in the future.

To complicate matters further, there was a high volume of information and communications employees were receiving from their health and well-being administrators and that they were consuming in the media, all leading to increased confusion around the resources available to support them and increased anxiety and stress around ways to navigate their unique financial, health and familial circumstances.

Adding to already difficult circumstances, civil unrest erupted across the U.S. and a social justice movement began, further taking a toll on the organization and the emotional well-being of employees.


AECOM turned to Blue as their preferred partner for ongoing benefits communications to assist with the company’s crisis communications. AECOM hired Blue to develop and manage several COVID-19 pages with resources for its U.S., Canada and global employees and their families to help connect them to the health and well-being resources available to them. AECOM had a specific goal in mind – to support the total well-being of employees during the pandemic and help them maintain good mental health by staying connected with their colleagues, loved ones and communities. To help AECOM achieve its goals, Blue developed and disseminated regular updates on COVID-19 resources, including news articles, social media posts, alerts, monthly eNewsletters, emails, posters, flyers, checklists, FAQs, and a COVID-19 webpage in English and Canadian French for AECOM’s Canadian population.

In addition to these COVID-19 webpages, Blue developed a communications strategy and brand for AECOM’s year-round global well-being program, which launched in May 2020, to help employees stay connected and well during the coronavirus pandemic. In alignment with the strategy, Blue produced and featured various communications and engagement campaigns for AECOM’s key stakeholders, including:

  • Executive Leadership — Business case for staying connected during COVID-19, preview and update emails to executive and HR leadership, and leadership progress reports and dashboards.
  • Well-Being Champions — Preview and launch email updates and guidelines for leader testimonials focused on the importance of well-being and staying connected during COVID-19.
  • Well-Being Ambassadors — Formal training, resource hub, event submission tool, conference calls, email updates, communication templates and monthly toolkits in multiple languages to support local employees.
  • People Managers — Manager training, guides, articles, emails, tips, well-being moments for meetings, and a digital resource hub where manager resources can be accessed any time.
  • Employees and their families — Multilingual resources, including a monthly eCard, eNewsletters, monthly webinars and virtual well-being events (e.g. fitness classes), a social media campaign for submitting stories of how employees were staying connected and well during COVID-19, well-being challenge and a content library on with well-being articles, assessments and plans to help employees and their families create healthy habits.

With over 56,000 employees across 7 continents speaking various languages, coordinating communications across AECOM’s diverse, global population was no easy feat, but Blue was up for the challenge. The crisis communications and launch of the year-round global well-being program were a huge success.


It’s been less than a year since Blue developed and disseminated the COVID-19 crisis communications and partnered with AECOM to launch the year-round Global Well-Being program; however, we are seeing significant success across both initiatives.

Blue has been gathering and closely watching and analyzing trends across AECOM’s communication channels and programs to measure success and improve the impact and reach of AECOM’s communications and global well-being programs. For each communication campaign and program, we develop success metrics at the start of the project or program year and measure progress throughout the year to adjust our strategies and increase their effectiveness.

Below you will find a few of the results of the COVID-19 crisis communications and launch of the year-round Global Well-Being initiative and communications campaign.

1. Greater awareness and utilization of emotional well-being resources
Globally (total eligible population 56,000)

  • AECOM’s Global Employee Assistance Program (EAP) utilization increased 8% in 2020 and 5% alone from the first to the second quarter of 2020 with the launch of year-round Global Well-Being. Total utilization is 23% which is well above the global benchmark of 5%.

In the U.S. (total eligible population of 19,000)

  • An open rate of 54% and a click rate of 7.6% for the monthly U.S. eNewsletter which is significantly higher than the global email marketing benchmark* of 17.8% for open rates and 2.6% for click rates
  • There were 3,689 page views on the COVID-19 webpage with an average of 2:49 minutes per session (19% engagement across U.S. employees).
  • 8% increase in U.S. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) utilization, particularly around stress, psychological and personal relationship topics

In Canada (total eligible population of 2,600)

  • An open rate of 83% and a click rate of 8.1% for the monthly Canada eNewsletter which is significantly higher than the global email marketing benchmark* of 17.8% for open rates and 2.6% for click rates
  • There were 201 page views on the COVID-19 webpage with an average of 1:50 minutes per session (8% engagement across Canada employees)
  • 5% increase in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) utilization within Canada.
2. Strengthened AECOM’s culture of well-being globally by engaging leadership and expanding support to managers and ambassadors, especially during a time of crisis
  • Growth in the global Well-Being Ambassador and Champion networks
  • Significant manager engagement on the Manager Resource Hub
  • Cross-promotion of well-being, safety and Corporate Responsibility resources across AECOM departments
  • Established a Well-Being Steering Committee of over 50 individuals across various countries tasked with helping shift the AECOM culture by implementing local well-being initiatives and providing feedback on global well-being initiatives.
3. Higher engagement in employee, family and community well-being globally
  • 300,000+ total touchpoints, which reflect engagement and include total views, opens, likes, comments, story submissions, resource downloads, impressions, event participation and more
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