As the economy continues to improve, companies are now looking at ways in which they can drive growth. However, whilst this brings opportunities for businesses it also brings a new challenge for the HR department in terms of talent attraction, retention and motivation. Having an engaged workforce and strategic employee value proposition (EVP) is now more important than ever, and as the growing economy continues to offer more opportunities, this will only become more vital in the future.
So how can HR teams tackle this ongoing challenge of staff retention and motivation?
It’s perhaps fair to say that the responsibility for the wide remit that is talent management falls to HR. However, as is increasingly becoming clear, any people issues can – and should – involve other business functions. Indeed, line managers are increasingly being utilised in outlining strategic workforce plans and employee development strategies to ensure they are in line with business objectives. But, there are a number of other departments which can offer more support for HR teams. One example of this is the potential relationship with the internal communications (IC) team.
Traditionally, there has been some overlap between the roles of Human Resources and IC professionals, after all, both are dealing with and communicating to the workforce. Indeed there have been numerous debates surrounding the ownership of certain responsibilities; who should manage the corporate Facebook page or produce the internal company newsletter, to name just two.
Essentially, a good internal communications team will consist of professionals with expertise in the development of engaging dialogue with existing staff. They will have a great knowledge of the platforms to use and how to best leverage their potential. These individuals are also likely to be on the receiving end of some of the key feedback from employees. In fact, they will be highly adept at monitoring communications platforms, Twitter for example, for any potential indications of employee dis-engagement.
On the flip side, HR teams will know what to say to staff, how to react to any potential concerns or critical employee feedback and, perhaps more importantly, the key messages the business needs to get across to its workforce. Those operating within this function will also be clear as to the company EVP and its main objectives. When we consider that our existing workforce is rife with potential company ambassadors, it can be argued that dialogue to and from employees will be beneficial in defining just why the business is a great place to work.
So on the one hand we have the professionals in people issues, and on the other, the experts in how to communicate with audiences. It makes sense, then, for the two to work together and drive greater people performance.
Moving towards greater collaboration
Perhaps the first step towards a more collaborative approach is to identify where each function can help develop the skills of the other. As HR professionals are adept at understanding employee motivators and drivers, they can identify topics and themes that are most relevant to this audience. When this is combined with the skills in the IC team, such as experience with social media and developing engaging content, we have an holistic strategy that is likely to be more successful. As a result of such collaboration, both functions will benefit. The IC team can learn from HR what subjects are most relevant to their audience, and the partnership also gives HR a platform from which to project its message.
Once the two teams are clear as to how they can support each other, it’s vital that the key messages are agreed. If the internal communications department is unaware of the specific messages the HR group wants to be pushing, it’s unlikely this will come across in any activity. As such, IC professionals should ideally be involved on a more strategic level with people plans to ensure this translates into all staff dialogue. They will also be able to advise as to the best method of communicating a particular message, so be sure to involve them early on in the planning stage.
HR professionals are perhaps some of the best at recognising the importance of having the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. But, while this function faces a daunting task – managing and motivating a highly diverse workforce – making the most of wider business capabilities is hugely beneficial. Considering internal communications teams already have this level of engagement with staff, they are potentially well-placed to support people strategies. It would be great, therefore, if the near future holds a greater collaboration between the two functions to support the end result: an engaged, motivated and efficient workforce.
Julia Meighan, executive chairman at PR, communications and marcomms recruiter at VMA Group.