Quick Summary: Improved workplace communication can help you inform employees about health issues, improve employee engagement, and build momentum for change and growth. Sometimes that improvement requires organizational adjustments. Here’s what to consider.
Some companies are highly adept at creating “tools for the toolbox”—methods to communicate important health initiatives and ideals. But even those firms fail if they lack a cohesive way to deliver those tools to employees.
“Before they release and promote important programs to their audience, employee communication leaders should make sure their organizations are set up for achieving maximum impact,” says Ron Hess, president of Motiv8 Communications in Port Orange, Florida.
The first step: “Map out how work really gets done in your organization, how people and departments interrelate, what drives performance, and what specific ways communication makes an impact,” Hess says.
If you decide to adjust your team’s roles for greater effectiveness, here’s insight to consider:
- Don’t make changes in a vacuum. Instead, get input from as many varied sources as you can. Angela Ginty, director of employee communication at U.S. grocery giant Kroger, says she visited stores in various markets to see how communication occurs at the operational level. “I talked to corporate department heads, and my research paid off because it gave me a clear sense of direction and confidence about how to build my organization and apply resources,” she says.
- Concentrate on flexibility. At Kroger, Ginty’s department consists of 5 communication professionals who are cross-trained to perform each others’ responsibilities if needed. One manager may provide strategic support for HR while also managing the company’s monthly newsletter. “This structure gives us flexibility,” she says. “If one person is overloaded with client work and a special project, we can temporarily shift corporate duties to someone else.”
- Don’t get hung up on reporting relationships. Where does employee communication best “fit” in an organization—public relations, corporate communication, HR? “In reality, employee communication reports to all these functions and more, with both good and bad results,” Hess says.
- Align your resources to organizational priorities. Your organization isn’t about a pet intranet or publication project of special interest to you, but rather about how your team can best communicate with employees as a whole. Resources should be focused on serving key organizational objectives and needs.
- Measure performance regularly. Conduct periodic surveys to assess if your organizational approach is satisfying employee needs.
Says Ginty: “It’s all about helping our businesses be the best they can be and using communication to help employees reach their goals.”
- Create a chart of your process. How does workplace communication really get done at your organization? How can it improve?
- Reassess your communication team’s job descriptions, analyzing how team members can work more cohesively.
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