I’ve never met a C-Suite peer who questioned either the necessity or value of great employee communications. In fact, most recognize and endorse genuine heartfelt advocacy. Another consistent theme is the shared expectation to routinely run our business with careful monitoring of Key Performance Indicators.
We in HR work hard at creating and publishing all manner of effective employee news and information, much of it critical around benefits programs or policy updates. But per the title of this article, how comfortable are you with questions like these as your company’s new normal emerges out of the current environment?
How do you measure the success of your internal communications? What are the open rates? Most importantly, the click through rates of your internal communications? Is there a member of your HR team looking after and improving these?
What’s the quality of experience for your employees as they use your emails, newsletters, policies and handbooks – not on computers – but on their smartphones? Do you know that 94 percent of employees under 50 rely on their smartphones as their primary connection to online content in 2019? Have you ever read your team’s content on your phone?
In February 2020, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled against Intel Corporation’s claim that they complied with notification regulations for 401k plans simply because they emailed them and posted them online. To be specific SCOTUS ruled ‘evidence of disclosure alone…” does not qualify as ensuring that the employee has “become aware of that information.” The class action suit will continue.
If you want to share YOUR voice across our unmatched publications and our other social media products, click here to become a GovCon Expert.
We look forward to hearing from our next GovCon Expert soon.
So back to my theme of potentially rethinking a few things, here are a couple of concepts:
Consider your employee handbook. Is it an inviting, even fun to read document, or buttoned down and legalistic in its tone? Would it work well to motivate a group of 30-year-old prospective employees to join your organization? And if legal issues emerge down the road, how will your defense play out when you assert you did your part because you “emailed and posted the handbook?”
The good news is that there are a range of software companies who exist solely to create and publish modern formats for employee handbooks that are great experiences on smartphones. Some provide audit trails for when and where content was read.
Some maintain constant monitoring of local, state, and federal regulations that apply to your organization and update your handbooks automatically so that you are always in compliance. Just do a Google Search on “employee handbook builder.” You’ll see an array of paid ads from companies with easy to read, informative sites that may change the way you think about your employee handbook strategies.
For those of you who want to rethink more than your handbook, there are some technology companies who transform existing content, typically PDFs from anything in your HR Library, into what can be deployed as a iOS or Android app for your company. These offerings are either tool sets you use in house, or turnkey services who will handle all revisions and publishing for some exceptionally reasonable pricing, including your handbook.
They are inexpensive because they are automated and use machine learning to accurately reformat all your existing content into truly high-end app experiences on your employees’ smartphones. Perhaps the most critical benefit to this approach is how these apps provide a detailed audit trail of how your employees engage with your HR content – giving real protection to the SCOTUS ruling from Feb. 2020.
This approach is not really about simply publishing information, but is about establishing a true two-way connection with your employees that they actually like to use and come to rely on. Oddly enough, these ‘bigger’ approaches are actually no more difficult to deploy than the handbook builders – but do take a bit more strategic thinking.
As we progress to fully reopened operations, the new normal will require addressing how to operate effectively with a more remote workforce. The resultant lessening of interpersonal actions will mandate highly efficient and interactive technology-based methodologies. A critical aspect of the new environment will be the competition for recruiting talent and meeting their expectations.
In the new post-pandemic workforce of 2020 the role of employee communications is further amplified as a company’s culture must seek to promote social justice and human equality. For today’s C-suite this either provokes anxiety or anticipation. Either way, the impact of the choice is meaningful for today’s DMV based employers.
As we all compete for the best talent, imagine a workforce following this logic path: employees have proven the ability to work remotely in a virtual setting and if across town is ok why isn’t across state, the region or the entire country ok?
We must recruit top talent across dramatically broader geographies who will work remotely. This means communicating with employees is more important than ever because poor communication is NOT an attractive workplace feature and great communication is intensively attractive to this workforce.
This leaves us with the realization that today, we most likely have virtually zero metrics into how well we communicate with employees beyond surveys and unopened email rates.
Future success will be dependent on how your organization can distinguish itself from the rest of the marketplace. No one can afford to continue to communicate in the same way that was done prior to this new environment.
I encourage you to explore the technology tools, some of which are noted above, that we can use now without unaffordable pricing and/or unreasonable resource requirements such as digital marketing techniques for internal employee communications. We must play smart in today’s hyper connected world.