Quick Summary: HR directors, benefits managers, and others responsible for employee communication often have numerous and lofty goals (not to mention executives looking over their shoulders). Reaching employees effectively helps to engage their participation and reduce health care costs. But it’s tough to connect with workers when your own department’s communication isn’t open and efficient.
“Today’s employee communication departments need to be organized for flexibility, focus, and connectivity to people and business goals,” says Ron Hess, president of Motiv8 Communications, an employee communications firm in Port Orange, Fla.
Hess says HR departments face a common problem: They’re responsible for creating engaging, informative communication for employees, but often fail to step back and analyze how well people in their own departments communicate.
“More of us should pay attention to how workplace messages are born, and how people interrelate before sending out the company’s position and thoughts about health or benefit topics,” he says.
The key question: How can people responsible for internal communication make simple structural changes that lead to more impactful, timely messages to employees?
Here are steps Hess suggests:
• Prevent a vacuum or a dictatorship. Instead, get specific input from as many varied sources as you can about how, when, and where employees should receive health, wellness, and benefits information. Remember: The right idea can come from left field.
• Team up with others in your HR department to craft surveys and polls that will help you better understand the needs and challenges of your employees.
• Don’t get hung up on reporting relationships. “Sometimes companies get wrapped up in where employee communication best fits—is it the public relations department, HR, maybe the publications staff?” Hess says. “In reality, it affects all these functions and more. Feeling ownership over messages meant for all employees is usually a sign of inefficient, unselective, hit-or-miss communication.”
• Support your communication priorities with the right resources. Focus on serving your key organizational objectives and needs. If you determine you need to send a monthly newsletter about your wellness program, but struggle to hit your deadline each month, it probably suggests the need to alter roles and responsibilities.
• Publicize key contacts and what they do. “You save employees time when they know whom to contact for various needs,” Hess says.
• Ask yourself: Do your objectives and resources align? “It’s all about helping our employees be the best they can be, and using communication to help them reach their goals,” Hess says.
• Who’s in charge here? Figure out the best home for your health communication staff.
• Conduct periodic surveys to assess if your organizational approach is satisfying the needs of your employees.
Hope Health, All Rights Reserved