10 Tips for HR Execs to Improve Internal Communication Efforts
Here are 10 ways for human resources professionals to clearly communicate effectively with all employees.
Your HR department has a pivotal job: to protect your company and the people in it. There are a number of qualities an effective HR team must have, and being communicative is one of them. Without clear, consistent, compassionate communication, things fall apart (or never come together, if your organization is new).
The big question many HR professionals ask is: How can we communicate more effectively? Where are we lacking and what specifically can we do to improve internal communication?
Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Bad news should never be a surprise
Ensuring that employees are not blindsided by bad news is an important part of building and keeping trust. Consider for a moment that one of your employees is facing disciplinary action. In most cases, an HR exec should only take severe action after previous discussions and warnings.
Communicate the problem early and it could potentially resolve itself. But let it go unchecked and unaddressed and you could be setting yourself and the employee up for headaches down the road.
Many HR teams are so guarded about certain information that they let important messaging fall through the cracks. This is not necessarily a bad thing — not unless it interferes with your company’s communication protocols.
Use discretion when delivering bad news but do not let it undercut your transparency. You do not want any employee leaving your company feeling slighted or in the dark about what happened. That could open you up to a number of problems down the line.
2. Establish communication patterns and stick to them
Few things in this world are more reliable than patterns. It’s kind of in the nature of a pattern to be consistent, reliable, and predictable.
Establish a clear communication channel early and encourage your employees to use those specific channels for all internal communication.
This is especially true when it comes to establishing clear communication in the workplace. Creating a communication pattern between all employees will help with that. Everyone will know what to expect and how to relay those expectations to their coworkers.
An example of this might look like this: set a precedent to reach out to all new hires personally and don’t deviate from that practice. Establish a clear communication channel early and encourage your employees to use those specific channels for all internal communication. Don’t wait to establish this. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to implement new processes and protocols that last.
Predictability is not always considered a positive thing. But in the case of HR communication, it’s a great thing. You do not want surprises. You do not want to deliver surprises, either. Predictability and consistency are vital.
3. Utilize mentorship
Mentors can make a huge difference in the personal and professional development of a person. In the workplace, it may be worth either assigning mentors or encouraging mentorship among employees.
This practice can take many different shapes; it looks different in every company that relies on it for employee development. Some organizations may assign mentors, while others may foster an internal culture that openly encourages long-time employees to take new hires under their wing. There is more than one way to do this and it will look different from team to team.
Mentorship can help establish trust between employees, as well as break down certain manager and worker barriers that may be impeding good communication. It is something any HR exec should consider implementing or even simply mentioning.
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4. Document FAQ
Are you getting too many questions about topics that are clearly addressed in the employee manual? It is worth considering the problem may not be the questions being asked. It may be the information you’re dispensing.
For example, say you are an HR exec and you’re getting frustrated that new hires (or even longtime employees) are asking obvious or common questions. You may get short with them, tell them they need to be more attentive during the onboarding process, etc.
But consider this: What if the questions they are asking are not as accessible or as obvious as you thought? What if they are confused for very valid reasons? This happens more often than you would think. Because of this, it is always worth going back and double-checking this because there could be clarity issues in your messaging that you need to address.
5. Find the right point solution
Not clear on what a point solution is? Don’t worry! The concept is simple. Basically, a point solution is a type of HR software that’s tailored to a specific function. For example, a point solution would be payroll software that was created for the sole purpose of streamlining payroll operations. Another software option would be an integrated solution, which is essentially an all-in-one tool designed to improve multiple HR functions.
If you want new software aimed at improving internal communication and not much else, consider a point solution. A great point solution often ranks among the best of its kind. It was created for a specific purpose or function, and it’s excellent at performing that function.
If you want new software aimed at improving internal communication and not much else, consider a point solution.
That said, point solutions do not work for every team or situation but they are always worth considering. Integrated solutions are also worth looking into! It all depends on your HR department’s specific goals and needs.
6. Evaluate existing protocols
There is always some aspect of the job on which anyone can improve. HR communication is no different. Take a good look at your existing communication protocols and practices. Where are the weak points? Where could someone fall through the cracks? Does your communication open you up to lawsuits? What can you do right now to get the ball rolling and improve these things?
These are all important questions to ask when evaluating your HR team’s communication practices. The idea behind this is simple but important: You can’t improve something if you think it is perfect. This requires a thorough evaluation of what is actually working, what’s not, and what specific steps your HR team can take to close communication gaps. It may be disheartening to see weak points, but catching these kinds of things enables you to change them and improve communication protocols.
7. Plan for the long term
This is probably a no-brainer but it is worth including anyway. Temporary protocols are fine. They serve a purpose and help keep things moving. They are important. At least at first. But they cannot be used as permanent processes. You need something robust, sustainable, and long-term to guide your company’s communication. Anything less simply isn’t good enough.
When you are looking ahead at the long term, it is extremely important to prioritize communication. Communication (or lack thereof) can make or break an HR team, and an HR team can make or break a company. Set long-term goals for your company’s communication and you will be amazed at how beautifully it pays off.
8. Create surveys (even if you do not like them)
Surveys can be incredibly effective communication tools. Sure, it may seem silly or pointless, but a survey can tell you quite a bit about where people are at and what they are thinking.
Anonymous surveys are especially effective because they allow employees to comment freely without worrying about retaliation or judgment. This is really valuable. In this respect, surveys can break barriers and help your employees feel safe and valued. Consider looking into employee engagement surveys.
Surveys can be incredibly effective communication tools.
If you have tried implementing surveys before and found little success, consider examining the surveys themselves. The issue may be getting people to care about what’s on the page. It may be an engagement problem that you can solve fairly easily. More on that below!
9. Focus more on employee engagement
This is often neglected or overlooked among HR teams and it shows. A vital part of making sure your messaging sinks in (especially with new hires) is creating content that engages and even entertains. People will remember something better if it elicits an emotional response from them. Studies also show that people are far more likely to watch a video than read text.
A few examples of content you can have fun with are: infographics, interactive newsletters, videos, etc. HR doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun. Make it worth their time.
It is up to you, the HR exec, to craft messaging that is memorable, fun, and impactful.
10. Emphasize company culture
This is another big one. Company culture is everything. A hostile work environment or toxic internal culture is a huge problem and has the potential to create even bigger problems if not addressed.
As an HR exec, you want company culture and communication to be closely tied. You want to help foster an environment that doesn’t just encourage transparency, but also celebrates it.
These are just a few tips that can help you improve the communication at your organization. Some of these may seem obvious but they are worth keeping in mind. Great communication can help people thrive in the workplace. It falls on you to help facilitate that.