This year more than ever, employees have been faced with tremendous change, and HR teams have been at the center of navigating the pandemic, supporting employees, and adapting initiatives to meet new business needs. As we continue to progress in an unstable environment, stress levels are increasing, and it takes significant time and attention to continuously engage employees and align them with program changes and new goals.
Today, HR teams have at their disposal the most powerful means to help navigate employees through these difficult times – communication. Communication is the strongest resource organizations have to guide employees through instances of major change. Especially in these uncertain times, employees are looking for connection and guidance from their employers. A Microsoft study showed that, during the pandemic, the number of working calls has doubled and one-on-one meetings between employees have gone up 18%. If used correctly, communication is really the only leverage point your team needs.
Not only can it connect individuals to one another, communication can also support HR teams in directing employees toward crucial desired outcomes, such as enrollment, alignment, or simply an understanding of a certain subject matter.
Data and Communication Make a Powerful Team
Looking down the road in your communication strategy – what happens when there are varying degrees of action? Does your team have the means to quickly identify, segment, and quickly adjust your messaging? As external events continue to impact your operations and force more and more change, the importance of effective communication will only increase – and to successfully implement people programs in this new environment, data becomes an increasingly key ally.
Data already allows you to know who your employees are – their names, locations, job levels, departments, and any other vital identifying information. Every employee is unique, and this data allows you to distinguish an individual record from tens of thousands, then personalize accordingly. Today, audience-based data is such an important factor in creating separation, that you hardly receive a marketing email now that isn’t personalized. In fact, most marketing communications will not just include your name, but may also reference your job title or the company you work for.
If using data for personalization and targeting is clearly this important in marketing emails and messaging, consider how much more crucial is it for company-to-employee communications – taking into account that retention, action, alignment and behavior are all concretely affected by perceived familiarity, camaraderie, and company connection.
With an employee population facing an increasing number of distractions, HR has the means to ensure employee engagement with HR initiatives – simply armed with communication. But without data to help inform that messaging, the communications will be, at best, unqualified.
How to Leverage Data to Drive HR Program Success
It’s understandable that the prospect of using data is overwhelming, even in the best of times. However, leveraging data doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be looking at an extensive amount of information to be able to measure your programs’ effectiveness. Data in communications is about leveraging what your company already has – employee audience data – and focusing on what your company can then capture – results or engagement data.
- Audience-based (or employee-based) data utilization doesn’t require additional investments in cloud computing, or an advanced degree in data architecture and design. Chances are that your current HRIS system (such as Workday, Namely, Zenefits, etc.) has exactly the information you already need to ensure more effective communications with your employees. Employee data can help in a significant way to drive the overall effectiveness of your communications. By using audience-based data, your communications have the ability to be segmented by employee groups or personas, or even personalized to a very familiar level.
- Engagement (or results-based) data, when used correctly, can help to optimize and improve your communications over time. Paying attention to how your audience is interacting with your communications – whether they’re reading and engaging with what you’re sending – will serve to help you increase the ongoing effectiveness of your campaign.
Audience-based data can be combined with engagement data to build a powerful foundation for productivity and automation in communication. This was exactly the case for one enterprise that set up a 30-day onboarding campaign for new employee cohorts using audience data, then leveraged their engagement results to successfully augment 60 and 90 day onboarding journeys across every operating region; the end result being a comprehensive and wildly successful global onboarding program. Imagine the tremendous time savings and the productivity that can be increased due to leveraging existing and captured data.
Don’t Overlook the Power of Data
Without data, there is limited ability to break through the clutter of workplace communications, and there is almost a zero-chance at improving and optimizing based on quantitative measures. The result? Masses of employee segments receive the same template message, and individual employees quickly flash through another generic “to: employee” message that they’ll either route to the trash or barely absorb, only adding to the ongoing communication fatigue.
From your performance management program to your Open Enrollment season, data has the means of transforming even the most complex communication undertaking into a streamlined and manageable process.
Dive deeper into how to best utilize communications and data together with our next read “Increase Employee Engagement with HR Communication”