There are many reasons for integrating internal and external communication, but who’s going to be responsible for what? And what do you need to accomplish a successful integration? And where does human resources fit in?
With the speed of technological change ever increasing, we need to use the experience and talent of different departments and functions, and combine methods to meet overlapping goals. With several functions involved in meeting similar goals, integration is even more important than ever.
Let’s start with some broad definitions of what communication and human resources have historically been responsible for, where some are also complementary to other departments.
The role of internal communication is to facilitate everyone, from employees to CEOs, in better comprehending the organization’s goals, processes and challenges, but also to train different departments, including human resources, in how to communicate the right message, and make sure that technology is used to widen the reach to all employees. Today’s technology also requires a different approach to inform the employee, as different devices and different generations mix with diverse demands for frequency and content.
External communication manages the right message and creates the pertinent dialogues with the community, the media, government and all the key shareholders, making sure they stay connected, as information is shared at light speed.
Human resources want to attract and retain talent for the company, as well as walk employees through upcoming changes, as the world is changing faster out and inside companies.
These functions are already becoming blurred and need combined team efforts to perform at their best. But there are some key functions that require purposeful integration and teamwork from two or three departments:
Employee engagement and experience
Both internal communication and human resources have a common target of increasing employee engagement and improving the experience of being part of the organization. Reaching organizational goals and retaining talent is easier when employees are happier and engaged, and employees are happier when they are informed with the right message on the right device, and have the possibility to fully participate in the company’s conversations. As Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson has said, take care of your employee because your employee will take care of your clients.
Make it easy and effective for employees to collaborate. Today’s companies will not succeed if silos between areas are not shattered by a more integrated type of communication. Select the right tools, select the right platforms, and promote dialogue. Give a reason for your existing employees to stay on board.
Inspiration is as important as information, because people act when they know not only what to do, but why to do it. Authentic messages from the CEO—leading by example and being transparent—are crucial for inspiring employees. Another way to inspire employees is to organize training and workshops to give them the opportunities to grow.
Every employee is involved with sales and customer service. Every employee today has contact with clients. An engaged employee with the right information and skills creates a great client experience. Happy employees result in happy clients (and the other way around).
Education about social media
Protect your brand and company with the help of your employees sending the right message on public social media. Embrace social media and educate your employees on how to use it properly.
Your employees are your brand ambassadors, whether you like it or not. As long as your employees are educated on social media, and are engaged and inspired, they will post the right message on social media; even better, they’ll avoid publishing the wrong message.
Employees, especially those of younger generations, no longer join companies just for salaries. They need to have a meaning and purpose close to their personal values to join and stay with the company.
Both customers and employees demand a consistent performance from the organization: Are the company’s words matched by its actions? Do the employees’ behavior and words show this alignment? Today’s public is demanding not just transparency, but coherence in every aspect of a company’s life.
More and more, the culture of the company needs to match the employee and the customer views. We don’t want to buy or work for a company we don’t like. A culture that is created on the inside needs to be visible outside the organization to support its reputation.
The lines between organizational functions are blurring more—and more quickly—as time progresses. Embrace it, and enjoy creating your teams.
Special thanks to Tineke van Bakel and Jorge Valencia for their input on this article. Read more about the convergence of internal and external communication in this white paper.