An integral part of any business is the integrated communications system.
This connects employees with the latest information about the company and contributes to workforce engagement. However, the role is now unclear as to who should be prioritising employee communication. The crossovers and interdependencies of HR job roles and Internal Communications (IC) are complicating the interaction process, causing confusion. The ongoing debate suggests that a clearer system should be adopted so that employees understand procedures.
Who is resposible?
The first point of contact between a prospective employee and a company will be through the HR department. From the initial interview stage to job exit, HR will handle their payroll, employee benefits and training. This relationship will evolve throughout employment, to ensure that the workers queries are answered and issues resolved. However, the communications landscape is changing, and new methods have been implemented to keep up with evolving methods of interaction. Employees now seek company information across digital platforms and have more of an appetite for real-time company news, therefore information needs to run more freely.
According to CEB, a best practice insight and technology company that strives to drive corporate performance, “A company's communications effectiveness is the single most important driver of employee commitment.” The worrying fact is that, “Employee disengagement has doubled in the last two years, reversing this trend will only get harder as the downturn continues.” Old-fashioned methods of communication, once handled solely by the HR department, such as newsletters and formalised e-mails have become outdated in most businesses.
Communication in the new era
Companies need to cater more to Generation Y, with real-time information, pictures and infographics which will help grab and maintain their attention. The importance and integration of an internal communications team has now harnessed its purpose within business. A more marketing heavy role, with the ability to create channels of conversation rather than just collating and recounting information to employees.
The current state of communications
In the HR magazine survey, where 1,000 internal and external communicators were asked about the efficiency of communications within the workplace, a high percentage felt that HR were not prepared or efficiently trained for IC. They found that, "It could be that respondents genuinely think that HR professionals are less well equipped to perform communications, and that the task of delivery should be given to a dedicated team with a different and more refined skillset."
How does it impact the workforce?
Communications plays a big part in the psychological well-being of employees, is synonymous with workforce engagement and promotes better performance and in turn employee retention. Internal Communications are more strategic and business focussed in relation to maintaining the company culture and they are skilled in conversing with employees. The two-way conversation techniques, combined with forward thinking methods of interaction seem to work better with the modern world of business.
How to solve the communications conundrum
However, what works for one company may not work for another. Depending on demographics and business ethics, one system may suit more than the other. Whereas one organization may prefer a dedicated internal communications department, another may prefer a combination of the two. HR is not an outdated system, but there may be more thorough ways of communication, especially when considering the beneficial extent of effective communications. CIPD believes that, “Better performance, employee retention and well-being. Employees are more engaged when information flows freely and they’re aware of organizational activities and management decisions that affect their jobs.
A combined system whereby HR and Internal Communications work together could be the more beneficial method, by sustaining communication throughout employment via different channels. This will also help employees build relationships with higher management and through real-time information, be informed on the latest company news. "I think it is most effective when the function partners with HR, marketing and PR to communicate corporate messages. It's also vital to develop relationships with the CEO to be seen to add value to colleagues throughout the business," says QVC IC manager, Gene Cleckley.
Personable methods of communication enhance employee satisfaction and make them feel like they’re an important company asset. This will improve functionality, as they will want to work hard for a company that treats them well and feel like they can trust. No single department really holds the message anymore, as the more successful communications within companies are handled with a combination of more ingrained HR methods, and modernised techniques used by IC.
Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals. To view more HR content, click here.