In a recent survey carried out by the UNLEASH team, 10% of senior-practitioner-level HR respondents said that “Effective Communication & Employee Engagement” was their number one priority; 18% of respondents said it was their second most important priority; and 25% said it was their third, meaning 53% of respondents ranked Communications and Employee Engagement in their top 3 priorities.
HR departments have steadfastly relied on face-to-face contact
The survey was aimed at asking our practitioner community “What are your top 3 HR related projects during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic?”. We would like to suggest that this isn’t a new challenge within the HR industry. Given that over the past decade or so, the business function of Human Resources in its entirety, like many departments, have witnessed modern modes of communication alter their ways of working, and perhaps their resultant engagement effectiveness.
HR departments have steadfastly relied on face-to-face contact and seen by many as one of the remaining pioneers of this communication mode, leaving the “human” method very much at the coalface. However, as witnessed through our UNLEASH conference case study presentations, we have seen a shift in adopting and adapting to new communication technologies in recent years.
It is evidential, that along with the importance of human interaction, the Superhumans of HR have harnessed the powers of instant messaging, social media, personnel dashboards and chatbots alike to improve their interactions and communications across their businesses.
Like many of the challenges and opportunities that have been catalyzed in the business world by the current pandemic, effective communications have not been left behind. We see today, more than ever, how important it is to get this right. Whether it’s part of your effective remote management strategy and business continuity plan during the crisis, or whether it’s a skill you want to improve on in your downtime due to your time affluence improving without the commute, we wanted to help give some Top Tips to improve YOUR communication. Our tips are based on an email communication format, but they can certainly be adapted to other modes especially when most of us are living on Teams or Zoom!
HR communication tips
Pay attention to the subject lines
It turns out that the subject line can be very important for overall HR Email communication even though we are usually talking about just a few words. Look at subject lines as headlines. This means that it should highlight the issues covered in the body of the message. Obviously, using an irrelevant and long subject line is not an option… “New H&S rules in the HR department” …is something that everyone would want to read. On the other hand, a subject line like… “Business news”… will probably be skipped by many and might even redirect to SPAM!
Be concise and not too formal
HR communications should be free of jargon language and acronyms that are not well known. In other words, in order to improve this type of communication, you should use clear and concise language and try to make the content engaging. This is a nice opportunity to display your personality too and be that HUMAN side of the business. There is no doubt that most HR communications should be formal, but you need to strike the balance of not appearing too unnatural and stifled in order to connect and engage your audience.
Send the exact information you have to
In case there is no new or useful information there is no need to send updates in order to show you are present.
Equally, send the exact information you have to, only to specific recipients who are concerned, not the whole company and not necessarily the whole department – make use of your company email groups or set them up if they aren’t already.
Add humor, but be careful
There are times when adding humour in HR communications is appropriate, and even recommended.
Typically, adding a touch of humour is suitable after a job well done for example. However, we should not forget that people have different perceptions of what’s funny and what’s not. In order to stay away from this problem, stick to plain, simple and “correct” humour… maybe hold-off on the face-mask GIFs for the time being!
Don’t avoid bad news
Many HR emails will have communicated some bad news in recent weeks’, and we all know that we can’t always be the ones sharing news related to promotions, party invitations and other pleasant things. In case you are facing a situation like this, get straight to the point – provide the necessary information and don’t try to make it out like it’s all good which could cause confusion and the need for follow up comms to provide clarity, which gets messy for everyone!
Include visual content to make a more powerful point
Communication, especially emails, is mostly textual, but this doesn’t mean that you should avoid visual elements, especially with the move onto different platforms that make these super easy to include.
Infographics, videos and pictures can all help support your communication messages though, and in this way, you’ll be able to present your points simply and engagingly.
Use other forms of communication in addition to your email
Don’t forget that emails could go ignored throughout a day – think about when you read emails and the frequency. Additionally, remember that sometimes people need to receive the message in different forms and more than once in order to act. If you are awaiting a reply from someone, send a zoom meeting or send a quick instant message to support your email points and get someone’s attention quicker.
Avoid needless questions
HR email communication often includes a series of to-and-fro messages. So
, before sending an email, take some time to read the previous messages that you have sent and received from the recipient(s). There is no need to explain how bad it looks when you are asking questions in your email that have been answered before. This is a simple way to ruin your HR email communication and your reputation too.
Read before sending
Whilst it is true that HR email communications are popular because it is quick, and provides ease of searching and archiving, it is also true that reading your messages before sending it is a good practice for these reasons too. Proofreading can help you with many potential problems as if there are mistakes in your email message you could appear unprofessional and in some situations these mistakes can create confusion and misinformation being passed on.
We hope that this article has helped you understand the importance of communications and how to improve it with the help of a few little tweaks to your day-to-day operations!