5 Tips for Improving Employee Communications
Human resources professionals are often called upon to deliver information to employees at all levels of their organizations. Whether it’s a serious message or something less important, poor employee communication can lead to people missing out on benefits they could use, company programs or extracurriculars they would have enjoyed, policies they must follow or other essential news about the organization. Employee communications can be a challenge, and there’s always room for improvement.
Here are 5 ways you can make yours more effective for the benefit of your organization and all of its people.
1. Practice Transparency
"Fostering a culture of transparency is one of the most effective ways to communicate with employees," says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better. Too many employers curate information by deciding what employees should hear based on what they can handle instead of talking about the whole story. Instead, commit to providing clear and appropriate information that doesn’t leave people guessing. “You erode trust and create suspicion when you pick and choose what to share instead of disclosing the full picture,” Steere says.
2. Use Multiple Communication Channels
"The more important the message, the more channels you need to use to ensure employees receive it," Steere says. Sharing important information through a single email or an online newsletter blurb is a gamble, because not everyone reads their email carefully or in a timely manner, and not everyone reads the newsletter.
“Those who do may share your message with colleagues, and it’s easy to end up with a ‘telephone game’ type of problem where the info relayed employee-to-employee isn’t the same message you had in your email or newsletter,” Steere says.
The result? Distortion, misinformation and rumors. It may feel like overkill to provide information through multiple channels, but most communication experts say it’s almost impossible to provide too much information. Emails, online platforms, text messages, payroll inserts and newsletters can be used together to effectively communicate information to employees.
3. Remember the Employee Perspective
One of the best ways to improve employee communications is to look at everything from their point of view, says Cissy Pau, principal consultant of Clear HR Consulting Inc. When HR announces changes, employees want to know how it affects them. Communicating the result or effect can give employees a clearer idea of what to expect and what they’ll need to do to adjust.
4. Get Managers Involved
Managers can play an important role in an effective employee communications strategy. "Managers who can communicate well with their teams help connect employees with the organization’s business strategy," says Jim Haudan, CEO of Root Inc. Well-informed managers can also provide concrete examples of how changes in policies or procedures fit into the bigger picture. “Managers who know how to lead and break down big messages from HR and corporate will make all the difference,” Haudan says.
5. Have Face-to-Face Talks
"For some information, the best way to communicate is face-to- face," Steere says. Sensitive topics or issues that require employees to take action may require someone in HR to meet with employees one-on- one or in small groups. "In these situations, it’s vital that communication goes both ways," Steere says, with HR listening to employee responses, acknowledging concerns and answering questions. In some cases, you may even want to consider bringing in a facilitator to ensure both sides hear each other.
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Mary Ellen Slayter is managing director of Reputation Capital Media Services. She has more then 15 years of experience writing about HR and financial services as a journalist and marketer. Any opinions expressed within this document are solely the opinion of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Ebix or its personnel.