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Developing a Strong Internal Communications Strategy

human resources internal communications strategy

This week PerkSpot joined a panel discussion along with fellow HR experts hosted by the Illinois Technology Association. While the panel largely focused on employee perks, a natural side effect of the conversation revolved around communication.

HR professionals are in the business of people. And we all know nothing is more valuable in relationships than communication. You can have the best mission statement in the world, but if none of your employees know it… how valuable is it? What about that new perk you decided to roll out that no one is using? Why pay money for perks and benefits if no one is going to use it?

As you strive to promote culture in your organization, here are a few ways to develop a strong internal communications strategy:

Understanding Expectations

Before you can communicate well, you have to understand your audience and their expectations. Generational differences are among some of the great challenges organizations face in communicating effectively.  

When you develop your plan, ask these questions first:

  • What generation am I targeting with this message? Millennials, Baby Boomers, A combination? Consider gender, socioeconomic status, and any other factors that may come into play.
  • How does this audience prefer to receive information? Through technology or with a face-to-face meeting?
  • What does the audience already know about this offering? Have they requested this particular perk or is it totally new to them?

Packaging Communications

In the modern-day workplace everyone is a communicator. Whether that’s at the water cooler or in a formal conference room, the fact of the matter is that employees talk. While we can’t always ensure everything employees have to say is in favor of the company, we can play a role in how we disseminate the information in the first place.

One interesting perspective at the panel discussion came from the moderator, Laurence Marx, CEO and Co-founder of EmphasisHR, who likened a specific perk to Apple’s iPhone. So much of what made the iPhone such a phenomenon was the branding and marketing strategy they used to communicate all its added benefits. As we seek to circulate information among our companies, we can also recruit our marketing staff to help us package the perk in such a way that engages employees and provides a natural way for them to talk about it. As Marx stated on the panel, “put it in a cool wrapper”. Make your messaging as unique as the perk you’re offering.

Navigating Changes

Another issue arose as we talked around this idea of communications and HR. What do we do when we need to make a change to our current offering? For example, let’s say you’re developing a new benefits plan and you need to communicate the changes to your employees. Your goal is to make the information as clear as possible, while also addressing any concerns they may have with this new change. You should outline the new plan and how it aligns with your company’s overall goals. For example, maybe this new benefits plan offers a discount on gym memberships, which aligns your company’s wellness values as a whole.

Maybe you’re rolling out a new perk that employees have been requesting for a while, but you’re unsure of how effective this will be or how long it will be possible to sustain. Try setting the expectation ahead of time that this perk might not be permanent. “We’re trying this out for a year…” By communicating with honesty and transparency, you’re less likely to deal with disgruntledness down the line.

Reviving Constants

There are so many companies out there offering amazing incentives for their employees. In fact, some of these have been providing perks for over 10+ years. This brings us to our final question – How do we incentivize employees who are used to all the perks that their company has to offer?

This again goes back to the idea of your packaging. Make sure you’re not communicating with the same flier today that you were using in 1997. Find new ways to package the information to make sure it reaches employees in the right place and time.

Still not seeing results? Remember that all perks are not created equal. Evaluate your offerings to make sure they’re still relevant. Another great idea came from Margaret Hermes, Senior Manager of Benefits at Groupon who shared with the room that they’ve created Employee Resource Groups specifically focused on different demographics. They use these groups to gather information and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

In a recent survey, 36% of employees said they would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work.  By using these insights to develop a strong, clear communications strategy around our perks, we can increase employee happiness and in turn see a significant increase in ROI.

At PerkSpot we know that one size does not fit all when it comes to your total rewards package. That’s why with our clients we value personalization throughout every stage of the process. With over 500 diverse discounts and counting, there truly is something for everyone.

Change Management Tips for Human Resources Professionals

One of the greatest challenges for leadership today is keeping up with the rapid changes in their industry. As communication tools and cultural norms begin to morph, it can be difficult for leaders not only to keep up with the necessary changes, but to implement them in a way that is healthy for the company.

When we approach change in our organizations, there are three guiding principles we should follow.


change management tips for human resources professionals

There’s nothing worse than being faced with a big decision or new change and not understanding why it’s happening. Getting employees involved in the decision is key to ensuring its success. In fact, Torben Rick, an operational and change management expert, says the key to implementing change in a successful way is to tell a compelling story. Rick states “before leaders can get buy-in, people need to feel the problem. People aren’t going to consider anything until they are convinced there is a problem that truly needs to be addressed.” Provide clarity on what problem this new change is solving and offer insights into any other possible solutions you may have explored before landing on this one. You may find that employees not only support your decision, but become change agents themselves.


change management tips for human resources professionals

This goes hand in hand with clarity, but it’s also important that you don’t just talk about the benefits this new change will bring, but also the challenges. The sad truth is that 70% of all change initiatives fail. As a leader, explain why this risk will ultimately bring rewards. As a basic guide, your conversation around changes should include answers to the following questions:

  • Why is this change necessary?
  • What actually is going to change and how does this affect each of us?
  • When will we introduce and implement this change?
  • How do we communicate this change?
  • What will determine that this has been successful?
  • What challenges will this change bring?
  • How can we motivate and support people during this change?

Beyond these questions, offer to address any specific concerns employees may have, and follow through on that promise. Transparency offers the opportunity to shape the conversation into a more positive and exciting tone that could otherwise be one of confusion or fear.


change management tips for human resources professionals

Someone once said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”. We don’t often pair humility with great leadership, but we should! Understated, but incredible valuable, humility is a quality that every leader should possess. Humility drives leaders to think about how others might be feeling in a certain situation and empathize with their concerns. This is especially important when dealing with new information or even a shift in the organization. However big or small the change might be, by practicing empathy, we can ensure our employees feel heard and understood. In fact,  what they’re trying to tell you may surprise you.

Have you dealt with a large change in your organization? What are the hurdles you overcame? Share your advice in the comments!

Strategic Questions, Higher Engagement

Every Total Rewards professional has the desire to improve employee engagement. But sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. Should you conduct a company-wide survey? What questions should you ask? What do you do with the information?

strategic questions, higher engagement

The key to a successful employee engagement strategy is asking the right questions. Although you can throw out surveys all day long, unless your questions are centered on the right things, they become just one more document to file and a whole lot of useless information. In fact, a recent article by Deloitte states that “among 80 of the most advanced users of engagement surveys, only half believe their executives know how to build a culture of engagement.”

As leaders it’s important to assist others in their professional development, which means asking intentional questions and listening well.

Here are a few of our favorite strategic questions to improve employee engagement:

Questions for Advancing Careers:

  • Which projects have you enjoyed working on the most?
  • What would others on your team be likely to come to you for help with?
  • Are there strengths of yours that you feel are not being utilized?
  • What new responsibilities would you like to take on in the next few months?
  • What projects would you like to be more involved in?

For more questions about career advancement click here.

Questions for Dealing with Change:

  • What do you think about this new change?
  • How do you feel about this change? (the key here is to get their honest opinion)
  • What is your new role in this change? How does it affect what you’re working on?
  • In what way will this new change be challenging for you?
  • What would help you most in adapting to this change?

For more questions about dealing with change click here.

Questions for Measuring Motivation:

  • Can you see a clear connection between your work and the company’s goals and objectives?
  • What makes you proud to be a member of your team?
  • When something unexpected comes up, do you know who to ask for help?
  • Do you have the appropriate amount of information to make informed decisions?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of processes and procedures within the organization?

For more questions about measuring motivation click here.

While asking the right questions is important, it’s also vital that you listen well to the responses. There are so many ways that listening can improve the employee experience, including creating a trustworthy relationship between managers and employees that “are transparent and breed loyalty.” This is the key to success. You can ask questions all day long, but if you don’t actually hear and respond to employees, it is all in vain.

Are there questions you find more effective than others in improving employee satisfaction? What are some ways you’ve seen listening improve the employee experience? Leave us a comment below!

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