#NZLEAD RECAP: Employee Communications: what do they say about HR?

Carol Howard:Carol 1

Zoe Mounsey:

Zoe 1

Thank you to everyone who participated in Thursday’s #nzlead chat about HR and employee communications. After tweeting pictures of favourite artworks, we kicked off the discussion with the question: “What is HR’s role in communication?”

As you would expect, there was a range of views as communication is managed differently based on an organisation’s size, purpose and resources. Some participants had worked with internal communications departments whereas others saw HR as the main channel of employee information. Tweets on the role of HR included:


Question 2 saw discussion about how well HR communicates with employees and the consensus seemed to be that HR doesn’t always do a great job:

It was acknowledged that poor communication from HR, especially during difficult periods of change, has a negative impact on organisations and employees. A few participants commented on how poor use of language causes confusion and that HR needs to be more direct.

@HRGem talked about the disconnect that can happen between external and internal messages:


People also suggested that HR should stop using jargon, a topic that was also explored in last week’s #NZLEAD:

The fact that communication is a two-way process and involves listening as well as talking was also raised:


As you would expect in a twitter chat, the topic of social media popped up, in particular people tweeted about how it is changing the way organisations communicate (internally and externally) and that ‘command and control’ communication tactics just don’t cut it anymore.


In summary, it was a great chat featuring diverse views and plenty of healthy debate about how HR can work across an organisation and also develop and improve its employee communication skills.  And that’s not to forget that #NZLEAD was trending at #1 in New Zealand during the discussion! Thank you all again for sharing your thoughts, wisdom and extensive music knowledge (yes @pauljacobs4real we’re looking at you) and as @HRManNZ said:


#NZLEAD PREVIEW: Employee communications: what do they say about HR?

This week we have two guest contributors, together they have a wealth of communications experience..

Carol Howard:
Carol 1

Zoe Mounsey:
Zoe 1

This week’s topic is about HR’s role and effectiveness in the area of employee communications. Put simply, can we do better? It’s an essential question to ask. What we choose to communicate to employees is important. How we communicate can be even more telling. HR’s approach to communication gives employees insight into company culture. It can tell them if a company relies on collaboration or control and how well it navigates change and ambiguity. It also gives clues as to what extent employees have a voice.

HR is by no means the only function that communicates directly with employees. But the sensitive topics we address mean that good communications are essential, not optional. Compensation, benefits, leave, payroll and performance are all highly personal topics to an employee. And this is not to forget the impact of company or function-wide communications about processes, technology, compliance, restructures and organisational change. Recruiters also play an important role as they communicate with future employees and represent your company brand.

So, back to the question of what HR can do better. There are a few themes to consider.

The way companies communicate with customers continues to rapidly and dramatically evolve. Technology, social media, global interconnectivity and the speed of change drive an expectation for faster and more transparent communication. We’re demanding this from government, industry and business; people are expecting it from employers too. The structure and tone of how we communicate is also changing: it’s becoming more personal and public, less formal and bureaucratic.

This leads us to key areas to consider as HR professionals, including how we can:

  • Use social media to communicate with employees (internal/external)
  • Promote conversation and collaboration vs. one-way broadcasting
  • Humanise the voice of HR, be more open and reduce jargon

So what do your employee communications say about HR? If HR were a person would it talk a lot but not listen? Nod a great deal but dismiss what it hears? Or would you describe it as a thoughtful conversationalist? It’s important to know: the way HR communicates tells employees much about who we are and what we represent.

Here are this week’s questions:

  1. What is HR’s role in employee communications?
  2. How well does HR usually communicate with employees?
  3. How can employee communications help or harm an organisation?
  4. What employee communication capabilities can HR improve?

#NZLEAD RECAP: Attracting and retaining talent through engagement


Thanks all for your spiritied contributions to last week’s #nzlead on attracting and retaining talent through engagement.  I thought there was a great mix of serious and provoking comment, humour and dry wit undoubtedly borne from personal experience.   Thanks must also go out to @pauljacobs4real for the role he played in performance managing my co-contributor @AndyBurner

The conversation kicked off with a discussion on how you best mitigate candidate perceptions of poor engagement through the recruitment and onboarding experience.  Overwhelmingly, the consensus seemed to be that honesty was always the best policy.  As it was pointed out, you just never know what will ultimately appeal to, and motivate, particular individuals.  Our gracious hostess pointed to the Daniel Pink concept of motivation  – a must watch if you haven’t already.

@blackbirdsthree in fact pointed out that a tough environment may actually be perceived as particularly attractive for the right person…

Question two, why organisations enter “Best Employer” surveys, unsurprisingly netted a range of responses.  @nzheadhunter and @carmenbailey both expressed a degree of uncertainty, perhaps mixed with a degree of healthy skepticism.  @HRManNZ, never afraid to call it as he sees it, perhaps captured it best however with his observation:

The observation was made by several contributors that there are now multiple awards with various winners.  What is the methodology? Are they genuine mechanisms for recognising engagement? Or more used as an employment branding tool? @alisonhallnz made a subtle, but significant contribution to this discussion, questioning whether regarding these awards as an actual “competition” actually misses the point:

The question was then asked, how do you effectively weaponise (I mean utilise) engagement as an employment branding tool.  Of course, winning one of the aforementioned prizes is great from a broader brand perspective, but overwhelmingly the feedback seemed to suggest that it is the actual employees that are the best advocates of the employment experience.  @NZrec summed it up with:

The conversation then moved to how you effectively get employees to own engagement, and what are the tools or levers that can be used to boost engagement.  The answers were quite varied on this particular point.  From:

(please note that @AaronDodd also suggested cattle prods, threats, intimidation and waterboarding…..)

Through to:

The variety of the comments again talks to the danger of adopting a “one approach fits all” method in terms of driving engagement.

@AndyBurner  made the observation that policy runs the danger of becoming a four letter word, reinforcing @HRManNZ’s earlier point that people inherantly seek an empowered and respectful working environment.   @HassanahRudd reinforced this view with a particularly pithy comment:

In summary, it seems that engagement is truly a tool for the attraction and retention of talent.  We seem aligned that driving engagement is critical, but often over-thought and over-complicated.  Without wanting to simplify the concept, it seems that treating people with respect, providing opportunities for empowerment and reward, and leading in a genuine and authentic way are all key to developing and sustaining a working environment that will sustain and encourage high performance talent.

Slightly off-topic, but a gem that I can’t help but highlight, came from @AaronDodd.  Not quite sure how it relates to engagment, but a timely reminder for us all.

Thanks again to @sterling_amanda for driving the discussion and ALL of last week’s participants and contributors.

Scott Duncan