Why HR Communications Deserves More Attention This Year
People are the core of your organization, and Human Resources (HR) is the bridge connecting employees to leadership. But often that connection is broken.
HR is responsible for communications related to employee training, benefits and wages, and company news. All this information helps the workforce succeed. But how do you ensure that employees actually get those messages?
Surprising HR Communication Statistics
A recent Gallup study found that 70% of workers in the United States are not engaged in their workplaces. That’s in part because many companies have not put in place smart HR communication strategies.
Organizations that improve employee communications may increase their productivity by 20% to 25%, according to McKinsey—which could contribute to $1.3 trillion potential revenue annually.
The cost of poor HR communications is high. The Society of Human Resource Management reports small companies with 100 employees lose $420,000 every year. Companies with 100,000 employees lose an astonishing $62.4 million annually due to poor communication within the company.
And employees are drowning in email; the average employee receives about 120 emails daily! If you think employees might get some relief from the intranet, think again: Only 13% of respondents to this Social Intranet Study, produced by Prescient Digital Media, check their intranet daily, while 31% said they never do. And 80% of the global workforce that is deskless has very limited access to the company intranet.
According to Globoforce, 69% of workers said they would work harder if they were recognized and appreciated more, while Gartner predicts 70% of companies will implement technology to do this by 2020. In fact, a 5% increase in employee engagement can lead to a 3% jump a company’s revenue.
The Importance of HR Communication for Employee Retention and More
Every organization or company relies on good communication to grow and achieve strategic goals. Communication expresses the company’s values and priorities as it connects with both external groups (including customers) and internal stakeholders (who are mainly made up of employees).
Often, Human Resources professionals are the ones who communicate the most critical messages about such things as onboarding, company overviews, benefits, salaries, company policies (and that’s just a partial list). In essence, HR communications can either make or break an organization.
Here are seven key points about why HR communications is important to an organization.
#1: Communicates messages to stakeholders
Human Resources communication can be extensively used to communicate messages to internal stakeholders about the state of the organization (think investor news, or training and development policies). This helps management and employees make better and informed decisions on how to grow the organization. It also helps make sure everyone is aligned with company goals.
#2: Helps a company to achieve its objectives
Human Resources communications go a long way in helping an organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Prudent HR communications make the organization become better organized from the inside and propel it to achieve its objectives. Without alignment, business initiatives may fail.
Additionally, HR provides strategic communication planning so they can be the trusted advisor to leadership and employees.
#3: Critical in an organization’s strategic plan
If an organization has a strategic communications plan that will help it make huge leaps towards growth, then effective HR communications should take part in preparing, implementing, and executing the strategy.
According to Princeton University, the HR communications team has the role of overseeing the strategic planning and delivery of all HR communications. These communications, in their case, include their graphic identity, their HR newsletter and the content on their website. The organization also has, or may need to adopt these HR communications strategies and an HR communications team will be relevant in their execution. HR communications also provide communication support to Human Resources. They oversee the development and implementation of a company’s communication strategies that directly affect the employees.
#4: Builds trust
For an organization to run well and efficiently, communications must be well-organized, clutter-free, and truthful. Such order can be best achieved using HR communications. Today, truth and trust in internal communications are critical to help employees cut through the clutter and feel confident about the effort they put in each day at work.
The HR communications team should offer employees with first-hand, accurate, and reliable information about wages and benefits, organizational policies and rules, company news, and other important HR issues. Without this trust, employees may get the wrong information from outside the company, or end up believing in rumors.
#5: Keeps employees connected
The value of your employees extends well beyond what you pay them in salary. Employees need to feel appreciated and recognized, no matter what number appears on their paychecks.
HR communications can help make employees feel like they matter to the organization. HR gives employees the information they need to thrive, such as how the company works, the benefits of contributing their best effort to the company, any training opportunities, and policy changes. This helps employees feel that they matter to the organization. If you don’t have an in-house HR expert, you can always hire an HR communications consultant to aptly handle your communications needs.
#6: Plans for future success
HR communications must be driven by a strong vision of future success. After all, the future of the organization depends on how well its workforce can anticipate and adapt to change. The efforts of HR department can help the workforce stay informed, focused, and receptive to change.
Typically, most organizations train some staff members and equip them with the skills necessary to work better and more efficiently. HR communications chip in and make the training materials fun-oriented, more accessible, and a lot more informative to the trainees. Moreover, HR communications smoothen the internal communication process by redesigning the communication materials.
HR communication is also vital in engaging employees, maintaining a good company culture, and boosting both the individual employees and the organization.
#7: Increases employee creativity and motivation
In order to get the most value from the creative powers of your employees, you must make sure they’re motivated to perform their best each and every day. Good communication can improve employee creativity by up to 93%, which can in turn contribute to increased levels of productivity.
Moreover, research reveals that 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they received better appreciation and recognition. Therefore, the employees can do better if better HR communication crafts initiatives that both recognize and appreciate them.
How to retain employees with HR communications
Employee retention is a key component of a successful company. As an organization grows, it is important to send engaging and compelling messages to keep employees motivated and informed. Because if employees don’t know what’s going on and are not aligned to larger strategic business goals, those initiatives may fail.
Moreover, employee retention requires a strong and strategic in-house HR communications team rather than outsourcing all communications to agencies and consultants. (Though we do know, as we’ve reported in our ebook, “How To Secure Funding For A Workforce Communications Platform,” there is just one communicator for every 10,000 employees.)
Employee retention doesn’t stop with employee orientation. HR teams need to connect and reach their workforce beyond day because employee engagement, productivity, and the bottom line are at stake.
The Future of Human Resources and Internal Communications
Are you aware of your HR communications weak spots?
With so much at stake, HR needs to prioritize engaging employees. The first step is to audit how you’re currently communicating with employees, and measure (with data) the performance of your content.
Traditionally, measurement and metrics have definitely been unexplored territory for communicators. According to our research about mobile and intranet practices among communications professionals, only 44% of survey respondents looked at email clicks (with email newsletters as a common way to communicate with employees); and 19% didn’t track metrics for employee communications at all. Additionally, only 22% of communicators were actually confident that the metrics they were tracking were actually effective in improving their communications.
How Metrics Helped an HR Team Gain High Levels of Open Enrollment Activity
Here’s how much metrics can make a difference to the strategic goals of HR teams.
Recently, a multinational company with 52,000 employees was planning for open enrollment. Because of the size of their organization and the number of deskless workers, the task of communicating open enrollment was incredibly time-consuming and difficult.
They used every means possible to reach employees—email, intranet, flyers in break rooms, and more. However, the HR and communications teams had no way to monitor whether employees actually received the information. As a result, many workers missed the open enrollment deadlines and the opportunity to make benefits changes.
Determined not to repeat that outcome, the company used SocialChorus the following year to publish and distribute open enrollment information. They were able to target employees with benefits information tailored to their needs, including automated reminders.
The company saw a 110% gain in open enrollment activity from the previous year, and the SocialChorus platform saved the HR team countless hours.
A lack of confidence in measuring internal communications and a lack of data savviness can have negative consequences for companies. The bottom line is, HR professionals aren’t using data-based insights to improve their strategies. We discovered that a staggering 70% reported that leadership didn’t even ask for metrics from HR. Their employee communications data was given very little attention—and, in some cases, ignored completely.
Action Steps HR Can Take to improve your communications after you audit your current program, take these steps.
- Improve employee engagement by studying your employees. Learn who they are and what communications channels they prefer. By taking this first step in understanding your audience (much like a marketer who analyzes the customer journey), you’ll be able to reach and meet your employees’ expectations. (Use our employee persona template to start studying your workforce.)
- Evaluate your current communications channels. What’s working and what isn’t? Standalone internal communications tools don’t work as well as integrated workforce communications platforms. So your email and intranet alone will not reach your workers over time in the same way as a system that integrates all your channels.
- Create a multi-channel approach in reaching your employees. This allows you the flexibility to reach workers on their preferred channel, and you’ll engage deskless and frontline employees (who may not have easy access to email or the intranet) that prefer a mobile app for your company.
- Align your internal communications strategy to larger business objectives and goals. If you are not aligned, then how will you align your employees? Get started with our easy-to-use planning checklist.
- Measure internal communications content performance. If necessary, start small. Consider what KPIs and metrics are important to understand what success looks like. Track this data over time, and then share with your team and leaders.
- Turn your internal communications data into action. Create a story with your data to learn how you met your goals (or where you didn’t). You can’t truly improve without always checking your metrics.
By taking the time to plan, strategize, and measure your HR communications, you’ll learn how to truly reach and engage your workforce.
See SocialChorus in action. Read our HR communications customer stories and Six Communications Tips to Improve Open Enrollment.