If I had a dollar for every time I have heard HR professionals lament how undervalued they feel within their organizations or how hard they’ve worked on a project only to launch it and receive little recognition, I’d be rich . . . or so the saying goes. In most organizations, HR owns the role of deepening employee engagement and boosting employee morale, which we all know is linked to improved employee retention and productivity. Most of the HR professionals I know spend countless hours and considerable energy developing great employee programs and their organizations spend significant resources on implementing them. However, despite their well-intentioned efforts, many HR teams continue to struggle with the perception that HR is out-of-touch or a black hole of policies and procedures.
So where’s the disconnect? One word: Communication. Effective and relevant communication is the linchpin between your great programs and employee perception and understanding of those programs. A recent study published by the HR Solutions’ Research Institute has demonstrated a strong positive correlation between communication and employee engagement. However, most organizations do not have dedicated resources to focus on internal communication, let alone someone to support HR communication. As a result, these critical communication opportunities are often left out of the planning process or delegated to someone on the project team who simply may not have the time or the know-how to develop targeted communications to promote your programs. Thus great programs and the enormous resources they involve go unnoticed, underutilized or misunderstood. In the end, HR misses a fantastic opportunity to gain credibility as the thought leaders who enhance employee morale and drive the organization’s culture.
Below are a few tips that will help you prepare and create impactful communication to ensure your messages and programs are launched with the greatest chance for success.
Develop a planned communication strategy. Whether you are launching a new employee program, kicking off the annual review process or championing a strategic organizational change, identify critical communication opportunities at the beginning of the planning process. Don’t let communication be an afterthought.
Determine the most important key points for each communication piece and focus on those essential messages. Don’t crowd out the key pieces of information with too much background or unnecessary detail. You can always add links to supporting documents or additional information.
Write in plain, user-friendly language. HR may be thrilled to say, “We target a competitive compa-ratio based on competitive benchmarking,” but who outside of HR is going to understand that message?
Make sure all communication is well-written. Whether the communication vehicle is a tweet, blog or something more formal, ensure that it is written in clear, concise language without jargon and that spelling and punctuation are correct.
Keep messages timely and fresh. While it may make sense to send out a detailed overview at the beginning of a program, do not rely on that as your communication. Plan to send out key and relevant messages periodically, as appropriate. Think “just-in-time” communication updates.
Innovate, don’t inundate. Be creative with what you say and how you say it. Use the right media for the message and audience. Vary or layer the method of communication as appropriate.
Align the message with the organization’s values and culture. Whether you are announcing a new program or planning for your annual benefits renewal communication, think about the core purpose and how it ties to the organization’s strategy, values and culture. Make that connection clear in your communication.
As an HR leader you no doubt take great care in developing programs and initiatives to enhance your workplace and benefit employees. By adding some well thought-out, well-planned and well-executed communication you will ensure that your programs are launched right. Communication can make the difference in a program getting off with a bang and not a fizzle.
Watch for our follow-up on the 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Global Employee Communication.