Organizational goals are achieved faster and more effectively when HR and Internal Communications partner to achieve higher employee engagement and employee happiness.
Have you faced a situation where critical changes in a company, be it senior management changes or M&A news comes to your employees via social or news media rather than from internal corporate sources — such as Human Resources (HR) or a corporate announcement? When it happens you surely know the adverse impact on employee trust & commitment. There is a tremendous body of research that points to the relationship between organizational success and employee involvement and open and effective communication with employees.
While there is a cost of failed communication and an incentive to manage communications the question is who should do the messaging? Should it rest with HR which is most concerned with employee needs, or should it rest with Internal Communications who are professional communicators? Both HR and Internal Communications are about influencing & persuading employees but they go about it differently — it’s HR’s job to formulate policies and the communication professional to brand the message.
The need to partner
The role of HR communication is centered on what a business needs to achieve and why an employee would be motivated to achieve it. However, the HR subject-matter itself can be complex, wrapped in policy and difficult to communicate – let alone inspire a workforce. Internal Communication, on the other hand, focuses on employee engagement and how communication is created, managed and optimized and is a complex process that demands a unique set of skills. More often than not Internal communication professionals have a strong PR and communications background. It is imperative that specialists be hired for each role, but they work together for organizational goals.
Internal Communication & HR
- A strategic relationship with HR: To begin with, most HR knowledge and information is kept confidential and on a need to know basis. In such a culture not just what to communicate but how to communicate is critical – which is not the core skill of HR staff members. Some organizations consider Internal communication an HR function but it is a strategic relationship.
- Communication is strategic: With an empowered Internal Communication team one great advantage is it not only communicates the HR message to the employees but carries the employee message and perspective into advertising, branding and public relations. This further gets weaved into communications with areas like finance, marketing and CxO messaging.
- Outside in-view for employee needs: The HR organization ‘is’ the employee engagement process and therefore a lot of communication needs and responses are assumed or implicit, something that the communications specialists are not likely to do. HR and Communications bring different perspectives.
- Specialists understand branding: Internal branding is as important as external branding and professional communicators are trained to weave a branding & language depending on whether the message is going to employees or some other including current customers, prospective customers, shareholders, regulators, legislators, media and the external community.
Working effectively together
There are several ways HR and Internal Communications can build a strategic partnership, including
- Empathy in communication: HR often has a very intimate & personal understanding of people, their motivations and goals which allows communication to touch their feelings and include their points of view.
- Active listening: HR engages in a lot of active listening and being included in some of this engagement can make a tremendous difference to the communication that goes out to employees.
- Trusted communication: Having an honest feedback mechanism between the HR, Internal Communications and employees is the best way to create a trusted communication channel, create high employee branding and minimize information gaps.
- Common Intent: Dovetailing communication strategies and intent allows both HR and Internal Communication to focus on corporate goals and minimize duplicated effort.
Organizational goals are achieved faster and more effectively when HR and Internal Communications work as complementary departments to achieve higher employee engagement and employee happiness.
Entrepreneur, TEDx speaker & Philanthropist, Rakesh Shukla is a BTech-MBA & CEO of the world leader in communications for technology businesses with a worldwide Fortune 500 customer base. Rakesh is a speaker on Leadership, Strategic Marketing, Strategic Communications, creating world-class bootstrapped Startups & resurgence in business. He lives with 800 rescued dogs, has no work-life balance and will not have it any other way! Rakesh has been featured in 100+ interviews on the BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CNN-IBN, NDTV, India’s national dailies etc.
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