Who will make a good corporate influencer or a communicational ambassador? How can we properly inform our colleagues during these turbulent times? How can we move effectively from paper-based processes to digital solutions? Can employee engagement and community building be improved in the online environment?
Tamás Barathi, founder of Colibri HR Solutions and co-founder of Blue Colibri App and Zyntern.com will try to shed some light on these topics for Pénzcentrum in the following article.
There’s a lot of uncertainty and questions, but we can be sure of two things:
1. Proper two-way communication is the basis of everything
2. Stories and contents are there in your organization, all you have to do is to collect, organize and share them in an easily digestible format
Both the international and the Hungarian press is full of articles about emerging HR trends, and plenty of content can be found about what will shape the market in 2021. If you scroll them through, a similar picture emerges everywhere:
- Home office and hybrid work
- Health protection
- HR Tech and digital solutions
- Hybrid Learning & Development (blended learning)
- Rethinking what employee experience means
- Modernizing the recruitment process
For me, it means that HR professionals’ work becomes more complex again, and active two-way communication plays a key role in the development and success of every field. This reminded me of an interesting picture which symbolizes the growing tasks of these people and has been posted by András Nánássy-Kassim, CEO of SmartScale in a group for HR professionals. Indeed, the list has been steadily expanding during recent years, and this trend will not stop in 2021 either:
Qualities of an ideal HR professional in 2020
- GDPR legal expert
- IT guru
- Marketing specialist
- Change agent
- Strategic Business Partner
- Data scientist
Qualities of an ideal HR professional in 2020 – updated
- capable of redesigning anything at any time
- can complete a math test while baking bread
- a source of humanity
- understands those regulations even the legislative people don’t get
- very-very agile
- virologist and a visionary
- can easily say: resilient
- an expert of on-re- and offboarding
As written above, adequate two-way communication has become inevitable and we need to be equipped with up-to-date knowledge unless our organization is mature enough to employ an internal communication specialist. Although we see more and more companies having this position, I have no illusions; this will not become the new norm suddenly, so be prepared for fast-paced self-learning.
To successfully overcome the obstacles we are facing, digitalization and introducing effective online tools optimized for mobile usage can not be missed. However, it would be a huge mistake to believe that a good tool will cure all of our troubles. So when building a strategy and introducing a new framework, consider the following 4 dimensions:
Process: this is the utmost important dimension. We need to see exactly where we are currently and what goals we would like to achieve. We have to be aware of what needs to be automated and digitized, what communication chains do we have, and how these can be modernized. How outdated, costly, and inefficient subprocesses can be replaced without encountering serious resistance. We have to identify key players and decision-makers, the sources of information, and we should know who turns it into understandable messages. Measurement, targeting, and knowing where feedback loops are needed are also part of comprehensive screening.
Tool: we have to decide that from the many great tools available on the market, which is the most effective and cost-saving solution by taking into consideration the company’s given circumstances and the tasks which need to be resolved. It’s important not to choose based only on our present needs, but to think at least for the next 1-3 years. The length of selecting and implementing a tool varies from organization to organization, but generally, it takes 3 to 15 months at least. In the meantime, new challenges may arise, and when we start to automatize and reduce the paperwork, it might turn out that there is way more room for improvement than we initially thought. If the chosen system can not be scaled up, then we can start the whole project from a scratch. So do not forget to remind ourselves that introducing a system is not a success in itself.
Culture: reception can be a dealbreaker when introducing a new tool. Not every organization is prepared for modernization. The lower the employee commitment and motivation are, the greater the resistance is. Middle and top-level management’s attitude, active role-taking, and exemplary behavior are essential. These people not only have to be regular users of the new system, but they should act as ambassadors to boost active usage and to support spreading the word. And we did not even talk about the most challenging part yet, which is the content itself (spoiler alert, managers have an important role here too).
Content: as smart gadgets infiltrated our personal lives and video-based contents have become more accessible than ever, our attention-span and interest decreased. We are in a constant battle for attention, and we are practically talking about seconds. The majority of corporate communication took place by using outdated frameworks until the beginning of last year when many organizations had to take a quick shift. Although it’s easy to implement a tool, we are seriously lagging behind with content creation. So having the whole organization involved in it is extremely important.
Let’s take a look at the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders:
1. Top-level management
Active leadership in internal and external communication is an essential element of employer branding because management is the number one source of credible information. Their actions strengthen the professional judgment of a company, and it has an impact on recruitment and retention as well.
Employees are curious about what these people are saying and they would like both bad and good news to be delivered by them. In terms of content production, it’s no longer a big deal to record a few minutes-long speech with a mobile device, and this way information can be transmitted more effectively, than sending out a lengthy email.
2. Middle management and Team Leaders
Members of this group have a big impact on their direct co-workers. They are the ones who are present at in-person briefings, consultations, and forums and deal with diverse topics, such as operative work management, workplace communities, or administrative tasks. Most issues are addressed to them.
If they desire to communicate transparently and effectively, they should create simple, understandable materials and make them widely available, so that employees can always find the information they are looking for. Short videos are important here too, but colorful infographics, simplified flowcharts, short animations, and straightforward presentations are needed as well.
In our case, experts are the members of the internal communication, or – more often – the HR team. The majority of information is held by these people. They have to transform it into understandable messages, target the right employee groups (based on location, job type, or shifts), follow-up, and measure the effectiveness. The expert layer is responsible for developing forms for the various administrative processes, producing onboarding and training materials, putting together and processing surveys, feedback, and questionnaires. And then we didn’t even talk about the massive workload which comes with organizing events.
Experts need to understand content creation on a micro-level. It means that they have to break down the content into small units (such as easily digestible posts) and then transform them into a stream of information.
They need to be involved in processes such as scriptwriting, content plan creation, organizing photo shootings, producing simple animations and presentations and compiling templates. Fortunately, digital tools can support and guide them through these tasks, but they will not produce content. In these terms, it’s worth building on your employees.
The employee community – that forms the basis of the organization – is loaded with good stories and content, you just need to bring them to the surface.
Take, for example, an onboarding or training process. It seems like a huge amount of work to put together and produce the right materials, but with the involvement of your employees, this task can be easily transformed into a motivational and engagement-enhancing program.
We have recently produced our own fire and safety training materials. Filming took place both in the office and at the home of one of our colleagues, and we involved the employees in every step. Even if we don’t want to ask your staff to be featured in a video, just think about how many colleagues may have gathered semi-finished or even ready to use materials, reports, and presentations that could help to integrate a newcomer. All you have to do is to collect the pieces of the puzzle.
At this stage, two-way communication and inclusive collaboration is a must
This is when corporate influencers and ambassadors on whom the team of experts can rely come into the picture. They can help with content planning, brainstorming, or even producing a piece of material. Employee stories can become an integral part of daily corporate communication; just take a look at this list of topics for inspiration:
- Onboarding a new employee
- Mothers returning from maternity leave
- Individual and team successes
- Non-work related achievements
- Knowledge sharing (about professional, voluntary, or leisure activities)
- Employee communities
Although many employees have been working from home for some time and physical distance has increased, topics and content have not diminished, but only took on new forms. Next time I will collect the best employee contents, but meanwhile, I would encourage everyone to explore their hidden resources and start the journey of improving the company’s communicational, administrative and educational processes.