Human Resources Communication: How to Communicate New Initiatives
Human resources communication isn’t just important for recruiting new workers, it is vital for ongoing interaction with current employees, as well. One of the greatest challenges faced by HR executives is keeping employees engaged. The top tactic for meeting that challenge is creating an organisational culture where trust, open communication and fairness are emphasized and demonstrated by leaders, according to recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management (1).
If your organisation is focused on implementing the latest workplace initiatives to retain its best workers, you must keep workers informed about those new initiatives through regular communication. Your new telecommuting policy, fitness centre benefits and other cutting-edge perks and policies are nearly pointless if employees don’t know about or understand them. So that’s where effective HR communication comes in.
Here are four ways to ensure that you’re communicating well with current employees so they’ll know your organisation is staying ahead of the competition and continuing to create a great workplace for them.
- Respect Employees’ Time
As much as employees may appreciate the fabulous initiatives and benefits HR provides for them, they are at work to do a job — and great employees are focused on getting that job done well. If human resources communication professionals constantly bombard workers with new information, they could become annoyed and tune out.
Instead, pay close attention to how often you’re communicating with employees and keep it to a minimum. If your corporate communications department sends out a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter, try to include your messages in that communication.
Avoid using in-person meetings as a chief communications vehicle. They tend to become a drain on everyone’s time and the information can often be communicated just as well in other ways that better respect employees’ time (such as webinars or electronic communications).
- Use Varied Formats
There’s no one way to achieve effective HR communication. In fact, a varied approach may be the most effective avenue for reaching different types of employees. According to ADP’s Evolution of Work Study (2), 79 percent of respondents feel positively about technology that “will allow for deeper connections across distance/time.” So it would be prudent to survey your employees about how they like to receive information and what type of communication technology they view as beneficial. But whatever their preference, in today’s workplace digital communication –text, emails, videos and webinars — should be an important part of your strategy, used in conjunction with the more traditional printed communications.
Melcrum (3), a communication technologies firm, offers a guide to communication channels that provides insights into which formats work best for various types of messages and for different types of information you’re trying to get across. They suggest matching the “choice of communication channel to the intended outcome, for example, whether they wish to raise awareness or gain commitment.”
- Be Available
Even if you think you’ve covered all the communication bases, employees are likely to have questions. Make sure you include in your communications information about how to get those questions answered. According to the ADP Research Institute, only about half of employees find getting answers to HR questions (4) “very” or “extremely” easy. So make it easy for them by offering a dedicated email address or Twitter handle that will be monitored and will serve to answer their questions in a timely manner.
- Focus on the Bottom Line
With every communication, HR leaders should focus on bottom-line objectives and the key takeaways for employees. Rather than sharing information haphazardly, figure out your main objectives before you even begin — and make sure those objectives are meaningful for employees.
For instance, if you’re introducing a new colleague, share how the new worker will contribute to the organisation’s success or collaborate with other workers and departments. If you’re communicating about a new flexible schedule option, explain how the flexible scheduling will allow more workers to get their jobs done and contribute to increased productivity for everyone. No information should be presented in a vacuum, so figure out how the new initiatives matter to your audience and make the connections clear for them.
Regular, ongoing communication with employees is the only way to keep them informed about the exciting work HR is doing for their benefit. As you create a better, more productive workplace for your employees, ensure you’re also promoting those achievements consistently and effectively to maximise awareness and a feeling of enterprise-wide connectivity.
For more information on HR communication, download the report: Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace (2).