I read this fun fact lately in the Society for Human Resources Management’s magazine: Nine percent
of HR managers believe that the employees in the companies they work for know what their benefits are. Nine percent! That means 91 percent of employees don’t understand their benefits. Which made me wonder how the heck people are handling their employee communication. Does anything get talked about besides the task at hand? Because it really needs to.
Back in the day, companies sent out newsletters with topics like a brief statement from the CEO, an Employee-Of-The-Month bio piece and maybe some newsy item about workplace safety records and stuff. I don’t know how many employees read these and how many dropped them in the round file. Companies also used cork boards where notices were put up: “Don’t forget to register for the company picnic!” While some companies may still be using these methods these days, most people get their news online. Oddly though, I’ve heard a lot of companies express reservation about setting up some kind of web-based employee information portal.
What’s the push-back about? Employers complain that employees only log on when they need to sign up for benefits once a year or check a pay stub or something. In between logging on, employees forget their login information and they inundate HR or IT with inquiries to reset. Clearly, that’s not the goal of interoffice communication.
The point is to have some really great means of communication that would speak to your employees through a venue that’s natural to them. Maybe you send out a daily email update instead of a monthly newsletter. Maybe you do print out a copy and tape it to the wall by the coffee machine. Okay, okay, kind of kidding on that one.
Whatever method you use, you have to do it in a way that encourages them to return to that communication source. When people are tackling projects and meeting deadlines, any information that doesn’t come across as either crucial or entertaining is likely to get shunted. Communicate in a way that fits your culture, something employees would consider fun and engaging. Video anyone? I don’t know about you, but when I was in the corporate world I thought a lot of the newsletters were about as sexy as the list of ingredients on a saltine box. As much as possible, direct messages to the correct audiences so that employees see the communiqués as relevant to them, rather than junk mail.
With a lot of these systems, you can see what percentage of employees are actually opening the emails or viewing the video and tweak accordingly. The main thing is, employees should know stuff that may not seem mission critical but is really important to building your company. Like what their benefits are. But with so much competing for their attention, they’re not going to invest the time to learn it unless you invest the time to make it palatable. That’s how teams, and companies, are built.
Have you talked to your employees today?
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.