Organizing Employee Communications

16/11/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

To develop a communication strategy, employers should begin by linking communication to the strategic plan, including the organization’s mission, vision and values; its strategic goals and objectives; and its employment brand.

Effective communication strategies:

  • Safeguard credibility to establish loyalty and build trust.
  • Maintain consistency to establish a strong employment brand.
  • Listen to employees and to members of the leadership team.
  • Seek input from all constituencies.
  • Provide feedback.
  • Prepare managers in their roles as organizational leaders.

A communication strategy includes the following elements:

  • Highly effective strategies that are often top-down, with senior management setting the tone for a cascading series of messages.
  • A budget that allows for the use of various types of communication vehicles depending on the message to be delivered and any unique issues associated with it.
  • A process by which leaders evaluate any particular situation driving the need to communicate and from which key messages will emerge.
  • A method for generating feedback and using it to shape follow-up messages.
  • A customized delivery approach with communication materials that are easy to understand.


Everyone in the organization has a role to play in communication:

  • The CEO and senior managers are ultimately responsible for setting the tone and establishing organizational culture. Key leaders should be coached on their role in ensuring effective companywide communication.
  • The HR professional and communication leader also have critical roles, especially in challenging economic environments.
  • Managers are responsible for daily communication with their employees and for relating to their peers and colleagues.
  • All employees have a responsibility to voice concerns and issues, provide feedback, and listen effectively.


Communication training may encompass any number of topics, including:

  • Company communication policies.
  • Effective writing and presentation skills.
  • Train-the-trainer initiatives.

A strong training component will not only equip leaders to communicate effectively with their teams and other organizational leaders, it will also help them understand the appropriate communication channels and protocols.

Responding to employee issues

There is no better way to cause resentment among employees than to ask them for feedback and then fail to act in response to their concerns. Honest, constructive feedback from employees starts with trust and the understanding that employees can voice their concerns without fear of retaliation.

Dealing with external media

External communications including public and community relations may also be a part of an organization’s communication strategy. HR professionals, in conjunction with public relations professionals and top management, should develop formal policies and procedures for dealing with external media.

Measuring results

While organizations generally agree that measuring and quantifying results of communication plans are beneficial, this goal is difficult to accomplish. Given the elusive nature of communication data, determining a cost-benefit ratio, for example, may be challenging. Did the organization fare better because of the manner in which it communicated crucial information about a merger or acquisition? Was the impact of a reduction in force on morale mitigated by the way in which employees were told?

Despite the difficulty of doing so, organizations should strive to collect qualitative and quantitative information to evaluate their efforts:

  • Qualitative data may include anecdotal evidence that employees’ attitudes were improved after the handling of an emergency situation or that focus group information supported the strategy for communicating benefits changes to employees.
  • Quantitative data may include measures such as turnover rates, productivity rates and employee satisfaction benchmarks, as well as use of employee service center options.


Identifying audience issues is a key task in ensuring effectiveness in any communication strategy. What is the ideal audience for a particular communication? The audience may include everyone who influences or is influenced by the information being shared. For the most effective communication, audience size must also be appropriate given the information being shared and whether interaction will be permitted. If organizations anticipate that employees will have a number of questions regarding a new and unique benefit offering or a new procedure, for example, audience size should be limited so that questions can be adequately addressed.

Communicating “up”

While much of a communication strategy is focused on imparting information to employees, another central component is permitting employees to have a voice with members of senior management. Having a voice is a critical employee relations issue that affects satisfaction and engagement. 

Geographically dispersed audience

Organizations may have multi-unit operations with a variety of worksites within a city, state or country, or even globally. The more geographically dispersed and the more interdependent these groups are in their need to work together to solve problems, the greater the challenges are to the communication strategy.

Diversity and global issues

Audiences for organizational communication may embody many dimensions of diversity: age, disability, ethnicity/national origin, gender and race, for example. Diverse audiences may have different perceptions and expectations when giving or receiving information, and these differences should be considered when developing messages to a broad audience. See Cross-Cultural Sensitivity and Communication.

Vehicles and Approaches

One of the major challenges in developing and executing communication plans is to select the best vehicles for delivering any given message to and from employees. With so many choices, such as face-to-face communication, electronic media, meetings, printed materials and webinars, the decision becomes quite complex. Is the communication best suited for an electronic message via e-mail or for a face-to-face meeting? Should communication be mailed to the home address of the employee if family members are affected by the news, such as in a benefits update, or is it best communicated in a meeting conducted on work time?

New forms of electronic media raise additional questions. With social media opportunities available to any individual, HR professionals may need to consider not only strategies to tap into this medium but also policies for employees using this medium to communicate among themselves. See Texts and E-Mails vs. Oral Communication at Work: Which Is Best? and Study: Tech Miscommunications May Erode Employee Engagement.

When selecting the best communication vehicle, organizational leaders should consider:

Timing. The timing of the information may be imperative, such as in emergency situations.

Location. Employees’ location may affect this selection. Are all employees in one building, at multiple sites or situated globally? Do they work virtually?

Message. Another issue that affects the decision is the sensitivity of the information. For layoff or termination information, most professionals agree that face-to-face meetings trump any other means of communication, but some issues may make these meetings impossible due to the geographic location of the employees, the number of employees affected and other factors.

Organizational leaders have many options, including the following, when selecting a communication vehicle.


The employee handbook is used to communicate standard operating procedures, guidelines and policies. The handbook is also used to communicate the organization’s mission, vision and values, helping to establish an organizational culture and employment brand. While most employee handbooks traditionally have been produced in print format, more organizations are moving toward an electronic format, allowing for easy updating, documentation and review, especially when all employees have access to computers. See SHRM Employee Handbook Builder.


Newsletters are used to communicate new information about the organization, its products and services, and its employees. Newsletters may be in print or electronic format and may be sent to the employee as well as to his or her family, especially when the news directly affects family members. Newsletters may be published on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly) or whenever the organization has news to report.

Town hall meetings

Town hall meetings are an option to gather employees together to share news, celebrate successes or communicate companywide information that affects all employees. These meetings are most effective when employees are physically located in one geographic area, but for some critical meetings, employees may be brought to one central location. Alternatively, town hall meetings may be held in various locations when employees are widely dispersed geographically or may be held electronically via webinars or teleconferences.


Electronic communication is a fast and easy way to reach many employees at once. It may be best used when information is urgent, such as in emergencies. E-mail communication presents some difficulties because tone of voice and inflection are absent, making an ironic or sarcastic remark appear rude or harsh, which may not be the intended message.

Face-to-face meetings

Face-to-face meetings with employees are one of the best ways to relay sensitive information. During layoffs or restructurings or when handling employee performance issues, face-to-face communication is generally preferred.


The telephone is another way to communicate information to employees. Whether it is used in the traditional sense when face-to-face communication is not physically possible or in more state-of-the-art communication via webinars or voice mail blasts, the telephone is a staple in communication vehicles.


Two-way communication is vital to any effective communication strategy, and developing formal tactics to listen to employees is essential. Employers can elicit fast feedback through surveys and polls about specific issues (like a new benefit or policy) or general concerns.


Storytelling creates a picture through words so that the message becomes memorable. Organizational leaders are beginning to understand how storytelling can be used as a powerful business tool to impart company culture, to create an employment brand, and to build trust and loyalty among employees.

Social media

Many individuals regularly use social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, not only for recreational purposes but as a business communication tool. Social media can help recruiters’ source top talent, help salespeople identify potential contacts and allow employees to keep in touch with their leaders. HR professionals should ensure that company policies are updated so that social media is used appropriately in the workplace.

Messaging apps

Messaging applications such as Jabber and Slack and chatbots that interact with applicants and employees through automation may be the future of workplace communication. The next generation of workers prefer chat and messaging apps over traditional e-mail. See Messaging, Collaboration Apps May Surpass E-Mail in Workplace Eventually and What HR Professionals Should Know About Chatbots.

Virtual team meetings

Organizations may have employees located across the city or across the globe and may need to rely on virtual team meetings to get work done. Setting expectations and establishing protocols are vital steps in ensuring that communication will be effective. Since written communication, whether in print or in electronic format, can hide tone of voice, inflection and other nuances of communication, many work teams rely on videoconferences and Internet-based technologies to make virtual meetings more productive.

The “grapevine”

One of the most used and undermanaged tools for employee communication is the proverbial grapevine. Watercooler discussions are still a mechanism for employees to hear the latest news unfiltered by management, and they continue to be a source for employees in learning the inside story. Employers must be mindful that whatever formal communication strategy is used, the grapevine still exists and will be tapped by employees at all levels. The grapevine should not be discounted when considering the best tool to listen to and learn about employee issues.