This post was written by Euan McTear. Euan is the Marketing Manager at Davidson Asset Management, a UK-based employee benefits consultant.
Quite often, success in engaging with employees can come down to something as simple as communication.
No matter what bright idea an HR department has for building better relationships with its staff, if effective communication isn’t there then the idea is much less likely to take off.
Quantum Workplace’s report on 2014 Employee Engagement Trends also makes the point of how effective communication is a vital part of any HR process and can reduce uncertainty in communicating important HR processes, such as employee benefits. (Check out page 19 for some quick best practices to increase clarity.)
This blog post, therefore, aims to tackle this massively important issue by outlining 10 easy and practical tips, which can be used to help improve communication throughout any organization.
A key idea of this blog post is that the more ways you can find to communicate with staff the better. Only telling staff a key message through one method of communication is never likely to achieve clarity with the full workforce.
One of these many methods of communicating ideas is to include messages along with your staff’s payslips. Think about it, which piece of corporate communication do staff most look forward to and actually read? Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s their payslip!
The fact that employees are interested in their payslips means that any important announcements or messages that a company wants its staff to be aware of can be communicated with a simple leaflet or letter that gets sent out along with the payslip. The chances of employees noticing this letter are pretty good.
Everybody seems to be on social media these days and employees are too. While it’d be hoped that employees aren’t on Facebook and Twitter during the working day, it’s likely that one of the first things they do when they leave the office and begin the commute home is to log in.
If your company is active on social media then a great opportunity for engaging with staff already exists. While staff may pay little attention to their employer’s corporate social media posts, if private groups such as Google+ Communities or Facebook Groups are set up for HR and employees to interact, then communicating key messages could be very easy indeed. Imagine that your staff received a Facebook notification every time you posted about a change in company policy. That sounds like effective communication, and it is!
The tricky bit is getting staff to join these groups in the first place, but even that isn’t impossible.
Short videos are an excellent form of communication.
All of us take in information best through different methods. Some of us like to learn by listening, others by doing, and another group prefer visual learning. Short videos will make it easy for your company’s visual learners to take in important information. Videos are easy to tune in to and require very little effort on the part of your employees. This is a common theme with effective pieces of communication for staff – the less effort for your staff, the better!
Now I’m not talking about secret messages passed underneath the meeting room table. What this point is here to address is the fact that meetings are a great opportunity for corporate messages to be passed down by managers.
In a meeting situation, all employees are (at least to begin with) tuned in and focused on whoever is leading the meeting. So HR departments should try to get these managers and supervisors who lead team meetings to reinforce the messages of the moment. Any individual employee is much more likely to listen to their immediate superior than they are to listen to their HR department or read the CEO’s latest email. Using this to your advantage can help spread messages out to employees and cascade information down via managers.
Quantum Workplace’s very own Employee Engagement Trends Report says, “empower managers with information to distribute to their teams.” These are some very wise words worth paying attention to.
So often I come across companies which have a staff notice board full of important information on things like employee benefits, holidays, and company developments, yet these notice boards are often placed on a random wall in the middle of the office floor.
Well, most employees are unlikely to check out a notice board unless it happens to be right next to them. That’s why the kitchen is the best place for a notice board. People might actually read it when they stand there waiting for the kettle to boil or for the microwave to beep.
Do you ever wonder why so much communication these days comes in Q&A format? Well, it’s essentially because it has proven to be very effective.
Sometimes Q&As can get a little bit cheesy, but as long as the information presented doesn’t come off as patronising, it’s a great method of communication. Employees very often do actually ask themselves the very questions that appear on Q&As. Clear and simple answers provided for employees can make a massive difference in their ability to understand and remember.
The short and broken-down nature of Q&As also enhances readability. Nobody wants to read one long paragraph on any subject, but if that same paragraph is broken down into a few questions and paired with easy-to-read answers, then the text becomes a lot more attractive.
Depending on the location of your company or the industry it operates in, there may be a large percentage of your workforce who speaks English as a second language. In that case, find out what other languages are spoken and translate important messages into those languages to can help improve communication.
In addition to improving communication, such a gesture also shows your workforce that you care about them and their individuality.
Ask any marketing professional what their favourite marketing tool is and the majority will say email marketing. That’s because email marketing is still a hugely influential tool—and for HR, communicating with employees is quite similar to marketing. You want to clearly communicate a message and get the highest uptake for it as possible.
So savvy email marketing techniques are worth considering. An email with a catchy subject line and clearly explained message can be very effective at engaging with your employees and explaining whatever it is that needs explaining.
Now this brings me on to my next point…
Just because an HR department might be responsible for explaining something like the new benefits scheme or new rules for cleaning the kitchen, it shouldn’t mean that the HR department has to work completely on its own.
In a large company with many departments, it’s worth making the most of the resources at your disposal. As with the email marketing example, ask for a bit of help from the marketing team as they’ll be able to provide professional tips to induce greater readership of the emails. Why not ask your company’s design team to put together a quick infographic if you think that will explain a message well? Or you could even get the social media team to set up that Facebook group I talked about in point two.
An HR department that utilizes its resources, coworkers included, will help foster effective and efficient communication across the organization.
My last point relates to the data that you need to use to communicate with employees. Email addresses, home addresses, and up-to-date first and last names are all examples of data you’ll need to leverage in order to use the communication tips laid out in this blog post. If that data is incorrect or out-of-date, however, then your communication will not reach the intended recipient no matter how great the content of it is.
This is why regular data checks are essential. By verifying the information you have stored, you can avoid the all-too-common scenarios of emails bouncing, letters going to past addresses, and more.
So there you have it! I really do hope these 10 tips for communicating with a workforce effectively will help you to do exactly that. Communicating to staff doesn’t have to be like shouting at a brick wall. It can, believe it or not, actually work…