Who determines the workplace culture at your company? Is it the function of Internal Communications. Or is Human Resources (HR) supposed to dictate organizational culture?
The answer is: it depends. Many companies don’t have a dedicated internal communications unit. In that case, HR handles many of the activities that would normally fall within the realm of internal comms. This includes newsletters to announce employee onboarding, crisis management, employee training, employee retention strategies and much more.
With the growing importance of internal communications, many organizations not only have a dedicated Human Resources department but also a specialized Internal Communications team.
This is where the lines get really blurry: who is now in charge of employee experience, employee engagement, workplace culture and change management?
I’m going to argue that the responsibility falls on both. If you truly want your organization to succeed, set an attractive workplace culture and enrich employee experience, then collaboration between Human Resources and Internal Communications is imperative!
Here are 3 ways you, as an Internal Communications Professional, can work actively with HR to set the right workplace culture, boost employee engagement and create a stellar employer brand. When it comes to setting the right workplace culture, collaboration is the name of the game!
3 Ways to Collaborate with HR to Enable a Thriving Workplace Culture
1) Work with HR to Identify Internal Influencers
In order to set the tone for your workplace culture, you need to identify internal influencers within your organization.
While it’s tempting to think of internal influencers as those with executive level job titles, in reality they’re just your ordinary employees who exercise a lot of influence over workplace culture.
They’re the ones whom work colleagues turn to for advice regarding a workplace crisis or even problems with their managers.
If you want to introduce an unpopular company change or a significant policy and ensure your employees remain engaged with any kind of new initiative, you need to leverage the power of these internal influencers. They can, after all, exercise a lot of influence over your workplace culture.
And a strong workplace culture is essential to attracting top talent and establishing a stellar employer brand.
But how do you identify who the right internal influencers are? This is where it becomes integral to have a solid relationship with your HR department and collaborate with them to identify the right influencers.
HR is privy to a lot of information about employees. They’re the ones who hunt for the best talent, who conduct informational interviews with potential prospects, bring top talent on board and conduct exit interviews. They know all the gossip that’s floating around. And they’re likely to have some ideas on who exercises power, influence and authority within your workplace culture.
2) Collaborate with HR to Communicate Change
We’ve talked a bit about disruption within an organization before. It’s not always easy. There’s an entire process that needs to be followed in order to ensure that the change or disruption about to take place is communicated in the right way to employees.
Often times, employees will react emotionally to change. If the change is something major, such as layoffs about to take place, it becomes imperative to communicate this change in the right way to employees.
Why is this happening and why is it the best route for the organization’s future and the overall workplace culture?
This is when it becomes integral for Human Resources and Internal Communications to work together. If the change involves laying off a certain number of employees, internal comms professionals need to work closely with executive leadership and the HR department to ensure you’re giving them the right messages to communicate to employees about these changes.
Remember, HR is usually responsible for conducting exit interviews and in some cases, even announcing news of the change to those employees about to get laid off.
It’s an emotional and sensitive issue and it needs to be handled with care using the right language, tone and communications. This is where you come in and can teach HR how to use certain words and communications to ensure the change comes into place as smoothly as possible.
So establish a good rapport with HR from the get-go so that you can work on communicating disruption together!
3) Utilize HR’s Help to Craft Engaging Stories
As internal comms professionals, you know how vital it is to craft compelling stories that will keep your employees engaged.
Whether it’s creating stellar employee newsletters or helping upper management come up with the right messaging to communicate to employees, you need to know what your employees desire and need. That’s the only way you’ll be able to create and craft compelling content that they’ll love.
And as I’ve mentioned before, HR is the one department that probably knows the most about each and every employee within your organization. It is therefore fundamental that you work in tandem with HR to come up with compelling narratives that will not only boost employee engagement but also enrich your workplace culture.
Need to craft a compelling video campaign and use an extroverted employee to be the star of the show? Well, go to HR and ask them who’s the best person for the job. They’re likely to know the answer.
Want to create messages regarding your employer brand on your company’s revamped website? Work with HR! Since they’re in charge of talent acquisition, they know what employees value the most within workplace culture and how you can embed those values within all your messaging in order to retain and attract top talent.
According to Andrew Harvey, the Director of Internal Communications Practice at the VMA Group, it has become fundamental for HR and IC to work together and collaborate.
“The line between the internal communication and human resources remit is becoming increasingly blurred. Both functions are engaging with the same audience, so it makes sense that the two work together. And with both departments constantly seeking a stronger voice in the boardroom, collaboration could be a real game-changer.”
The key to working with HR is to ensure open dialogue and communication with them from the beginning. You could also take the initiative to create a lunch and learn series with HR every month as a way for IC and HR departments to get together and exchange ideas.
Be honest about ideas that’ll work and those that won’t. It’s only by operating from a place of mutual respect, open dialogue and honest communication that you’ll be able to take your workplace culture to new heights and establish a strong employer brand.
Did the above article inspire you to boost employee engagement and create an epic workplace culture? You may want to up your internal comms game by tracking your employee emails with our handy tool. Just click on the button below to book your demo!