Whether it’s an employee benefits scheme or a recognition programme, employee communications are critical to the success of any HR initiative. With more employees becoming dis-engaged and unsatisfied with their jobs, communication about HR programmes makes a real difference and result in:
- Improved employee engagement
- Reduced turnover
- Higher productivity
- Lower recruitment expenses
So is it time you reminded your employees that a programme exists, the benefits and how to participate?
Marketing and HR
One area of the business that knows a lot about communications is the marketing department. Marketing is a simple concept: it ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together and appeal to the right people at the right time.
Many HR professionals are starting to realise that they can tap into the wide breadth of experience, tools and techniques that the marketing department has to offer.
There are several similarities between marketing and HR:
- Marketers aim to attract and retain customers in a competitive environment, and the HR team are doing exactly the same, it’s just their customers are the organisation’s employees.
- Both disciplines concentrate on developing relationships with people. To be effective they need to have strong connections with psychology.
- Sometimes marketing and HR don’t get the respect they deserve because they are seen as ‘fluffy’ or manipulating.
Key marketing tools and techniques for HR professionals
By gaining a deeper understanding of marketing principles, HR professionals can make a significant impact on the organisation’s bottom line and strategic considerations.
Know your audience
Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing a customer base into groups of individuals that are similar in specific ways. Categories such as age, gender, interests, spending habits, and so on are extremely useful to marketers. These smaller groups mean marketers can get a better understanding of the needs and wants of the customer so they can personalise which products or services to communicate.
When it comes to employee communications HR professionals should segment their employees. Those who have young families at home will want different benefits to those who have adult children who have flown the nest or employees without children.
Knowing your employees will help you decide which benefits and rewards to offer.
Listen to your customers
Market research is important for every business and should be a continual process rather than a one-off. Marketers use research to answer questions such as, who are my customers? What do they want? Why have they bought my product? It enables the company to make informed decisions based on fact rather than a gut feeling and helps to identify new opportunities.
There are a number of techniques and tools available, such as paper-based and online staff surveys, suggestion boxes and informal feedback through meetings and workshops. HR professionals can use market research techniques to help identify the benefits and rewards that will help them recruit and retain employees, understand why they joined and also which communication channels have the most impact on their employees.
Marketers don’t just stick to one communication channel, even if their research has suggested there is one overwhelming favourite method of communication. Marketing teams understand that people often need to see or hear the message four or five times before they decide to make a purchase, so they use a mix of communication channels to make sure people are exposed to the message several times in their everyday lives.
As an HR professional you need to decide which communication channels deserve your attention based on your budget and your own research. Ensure that you include a mix of channels such as email, noticeboards, meetings, workshops, text messaging and newsletters. If not all your employees are based in a single office – for example field-based staff – then consider the best way to communicate you message, so they have more than one way of receiving the information.
Researching, understanding and listening to your employees will significantly improve your communications and subsequently improve employee satisfaction and engagement. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers.