Communicating with employees is an incredibly important part of the HR function of every organisation, especially at times of crisis – whether external or internal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in swathes of the global workforce working from home. Whilst many may see this as a problem and be tempted to put projects on hold, we believe that the opposite is true: you just need to think differently, including how you communicate.
Studies have found that effective and strong communication in the workplace can enhance productivity and profitability. Yet research by the CIPD suggests that a great deal of employees feel that they don’t receive enough information from their respective employers.
This should concern HR professionals. A key part of the role of HR is to ensure employees are happy, informed, and feel fully involved with the companies they work for. Whilst many larger organisations have an internal communications team, most SMEs look to HR to make sure that internal employee communication is conducted, and done to a high standard.
Why is communication with employees important?
The most important reason for HR communicating effectively is enhanced employee engagement. The result of this is increased performance, reduced employee turnover, and better employee wellbeing.
Yet, in addition, whilst it’s important that HR professionals communicate effectively with employees, it’s also vital that the communication lines between HR leadership and other HR staff are strong too.
The quality of a people manager is found in their ability to communicate their expertise, HR best practice, and vision for the HR function and organisation as a whole. Yet executing such strategy demands functional implementation of steps, processes, and procedures, which serve to facilitate the effective communication to HR staff on how to communicate with the organisation’s internal and external customers – internal customers being the employees of the organisation, and the external customers being candidates, applicants, and agencies.
Steps, processes & procedures
An all-in-one system
In order for you to achieve your communication goals, and to gain the benefits outlined above, you need to ensure you have the necessary steps, processes, and procedures set up, and the tools at your disposal to do so.
The first and most important step is to have all of the information relating to your employees (including employment history, contract details, salary, diversity information, personal information, documents, company assets, performance records, and absence history) stored in a single, secure HR platform.
This platform should be for the benefit of every employee, which means that it shouldn’t be restricted to HR colleagues only. The HR system should be accessible by all employees. However, in order to remain GDPR-compliant, your system must have extensive and granular permission sets so that you can define what a user is allowed to do and see when accessing or viewing employee records.
In addition, an employee directory feature should be used so that employees can easily find information about how to get in touch with colleagues, as well as giving them an overview of everyone in the company, which encourages cross-collaboration between different departments.
But this directory has to be better than a simple address book – useful information about employees (e.g. achievements against objectives, development needs, absence records) should be captured automatically as users carry out their day-to-day tasks, and stored against employee records. This ensures that important employee information is always readily available to those that need it.
Also, company documents should be easily available for employees to access, such as policies, procedures, standard templates, guidance notes, and forms. This means that when an employee doesn’t know or has forgotten an important company policy or procedure, the information they need is ready and waiting.
Letters & emails
This is arguably the most crucial tool you have at your disposal. You need to have fully-configurable letter and email templates that are part of integrated workflow processes, allowing you to tailor them to your needs and align them to your company’s objectives.
Having fully-configurable letters and emails means that you can get your message across exactly how you want, using the exact language and voice that you want to convey, which is vital to effectively communicating your HR best practice and vision.
Surveys, calendars & news
Surveys are great for effectively communicating with your employees. Surveys facilitate two-way communication – your employees feel engaged and empowered and, in return, you get invaluable information and data that can be used to positively shape your strategy.
You should also take advantage of group calendars – when events such as holidays or performance reviews are created, you can automatically copy these into an Outlook or Google calendar. You should be able to define as many calendars as required and share them with relevant groups of employees and managers.
Another great feature you should take advantage of is a ‘company news’ area, where you can post the latest news and stories about your organisation, ensuring your employees are kept up-to-date with what’s going on.
The end result
If you are able to implement all of the above in an integrated way, you will be able to realise your vision and ensure efficient and effectual communication in your organisation, resulting in increased performance, reduced employee turnover, and better employee wellbeing.