Thanks to Banana Republic and Gap Inc. for hosting such a wonderful event at their headquarters in New York! Almost 100 people joined us to learn new and exciting ways of connecting their leaders with their people.
Communicators responsible for human resources initiatives including open enrollment, onboarding, career development and benefits communications are engaging employees on a whole new level.
As the employment market continues to improve and the relationship between employers and employees grows increasingly transactional, it’s now more vital than ever to treat employees as customers. You have to earn their attention and commitment – and HR branding and communications can be an invaluable tool in the HR communications arsenal.
Here are a few important principles to consider when developing your new HR communications and internal brand strategy:
1. Lead with a strong narrative
Your internal narrative will distill the differentiated promise you make to your people down to its essence – a crystal clear story that you can tell in your HR communications, graphic design and materials. Find your North Star message — the reason why your HR experience rewards employees and frees them to bring their A game — and connect back to it in your interactions with employees. And don’t forget the human component of your story: every decision we make is, at heart, an emotional one.
2. Keep it simple
If your objectives are engagement and participation, simplicity should reign. Today’s workplaces are noisy, confusing, ambiguous environments. Communicators should do all they can to help employees by using clear language, and organizing information into consistent themes over time. One useful approach is the “One What and Three Hows” approach to messaging development.
3. Answer the “why”
Why should employees care about what you’re saying? Why does it address their concerns? You should never assume that people will just obediently follow instructions – you expect them to be curious and use their critical faculties in their everyday work, so don’t assume they’ll stop thinking just because you tell them to do something. Explain the rationale behind decisions or requests – their value to the business or for employees.
4. Be visual
The appropriate use of information graphics can make data far easier to digest. On-brand photography, particularly featuring real employees rather than stock images, can add a human dimension. Great information architecture and thoughtful design can help employees find exactly the right information quickly and efficiently.
5. Consider rapid prototyping
Tap into your champion network, or invite a representative sample of employees to join you for lunch, in order to gain their thoughts on draft materials or your new internal brand. Listen to their feedback and make adjustments accordingly. This will help to both accelerate the success of the effort and deepen your relationship with a group of advocates who will continue to be evangelists for your communications.
With an audience-centric approach, a focus on storytelling and great design, any HR communicator can turn the employee experience into a valuable source of competitive advantage for their company. We hope that these five tips get your HR branding and communications off to a flying start. — Preston Lewis
How To Use Social Media & Traditional Communications To Engage Employees, Drive Performance & Add Value
October 3-6, 2011 in San Francisco
Mention “SF IABC” to receive a special $200 discount!
We raised a barn! Technically, it was a website and there were no cattle or live animals involved, just a group of very talented communicators. I was invited by the San Antonio Chapter of IABC to lead a workshop along with Chris Hall, CTO of IABC. Our objective was to build a new Chapter website on the WordPress platform. This was the first time we attempted such a feat and I am very pleased with the result. Approximately, 25 participants joined us at the San Antonino Chamber of Commerce Small Business Center on a rainy Friday morning and thanks to the great coordination by chapter leaders including Sheri Rosen and Becky Bridges, the event went off without a hitch. Of course, we learned quite a bit and would shift some things the next time we deliver this kind of workshop, however we definitely left feeling confident that all attendees received more than they had expected.
Seems like some folks think that we are back to where we had started. Some say “Calling all great minds!” or “Time to get creative!”. I say that we can dig ourselves out of this hole with the a similar thing that got is here in the first place: People. The punchline is that the “People Power” needs to be heading in the other direction. Less shopping, less credit cards, less waste. More online shopping, more non-credit payment methods, more efficiency. Here are a few additional things to consider as people seek more ways to do more with less:
Over-communicate: Use social media, “manager brown-bag” conversations, town halls and other ways to communicate and engage employees who are all seeking more ways contribute to the success and profitability of the their company. Let’s face it, people are more willing to go the extra-mile if it mean’s staying out of the unemployment line – it’s a win-win. Don’t forget, this is a two-way conversation. Employees speak-up and leaders need to listen now more than ever.
Be efficient: I’m not just talking about recycling. This past Father’s Day was a great example of many families figuring out new ways to celebrate and appreciate their father’s without spending too much money. It’s sure easy to get creative when you don’t have a choice isn’t it? Other ways of being efficient at home include cooking more meals than one at a time, investing in reusable food storage containers, being “water considerate’ and going more places as a family.
People Power is really a common sense approach to making sure you are doing everything for yourself, your family, your community and your company to live a long and healthy life. Let’s not over complicate things or else we’ll lose sight of the bigger picture, again.