The Role Of HR In Enhancing Internal Communications: Strategies For Building A Stronger Organisational Culture

August 28, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-HR-InternalComms

In today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving business landscape, the success of an organisation is closely tied to its ability to foster a great organisational culture. Two crucial pillars that contribute significantly to this endeavour are Internal Communications (Internal Comms) and Human Resources (HR). At the intersection of these two functions sits the power to inform, engage and excite employees about organisational objectives, and to build a culture with intention and thought.

Let’s delve into the crucial relationship between Internal Comms and HR, highlighting their collaborative potential, benefits, challenges, and future considerations.

Internal Comms focuses on facilitating transparent and meaningful communication among all levels of an organisation. HR, on the other hand, is responsible for managing the workforce through the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to development and retention. While these functions may seem distinct, they are intrinsically linked by their shared goals of promoting employee well-being, engagement, and a sense of belonging within the organisation.

The Intersection of Internal Comms and HR

Internal Comms is a key partner for HR to communicate their strategy and initiatives. The alignment between Internal Comms and HR is a critical factor in ensuring a seamless and effective employee experience. 

For instance, during employee onboarding, Internal Comms can provide the necessary materials and messaging to help new hires integrate into the organisation smoothly. Internal Comms channels (eg: intranet, leadership blog etc.) give new employees a lay of the land and important context about their new organisation. 

When faced with restructuring, mergers, or other significant shifts, HR and Internal Comms work hand-in-hand to manage communication strategies that minimize disruption and uncertainty. This collaboration fosters trust among employees and maintains morale during challenging times.

Benefits of Effective Integration

When HR and Internal Comms function cohesively, the organisation and employees experience the benefits:

  1. Better Alignment with Organisational Goals: When employees are well-informed about company objectives, they are more likely to work towards shared goals, leading to improved overall performance.
  2. Enhanced Employee Engagement: People want to be “in-the-loop” about what’s happening in their organisation. Clear and consistent communication helps employees feel connected to the organisation’s mission and values.  This engagement translates to higher productivity and job satisfaction.
  3. Strengthened Employer-Employee Relationships: Employee to employer communication is just as important as top-down communication. Having channels where employees can share their feedback, such as in townhalls, online forums etc., creates a sense of trust between employees and the organisation, fostering loyalty and reducing turnover rates.
  4. Improved Crisis Management: In times of crisis, a well-coordinated communication strategy between HR and Internal Comms ensures that accurate information reaches employees promptly, mitigating confusion and panic. 

Challenges and Solutions

While the integration of Internal Comms and HR holds immense potential, it’s important to acknowledge the potential roadblocks that organisations may encounter along the way. These challenges can arise from differences in priorities, communication styles, and organisational structures. However, they can be overcome with a defined strategy and governance framework. 

ChallengeSolutionTools & Governance
Differing Priorities and Goals: Internal Comms and HR often have distinct objectives. While HR focuses on talent management and workforce development, Internal Comms aims to facilitate transparent communication. This divergence in goals can lead to conflicting priorities and hinder effective collaboration.
To overcome this challenge, it’s crucial to establish a shared understanding of overarching organisational goals and by aligning both functions with the organisation’s mission and vision. 
Shared mission & goals – what do we want to achieve together and how do we want to do it?
Organisational Silos: Organisational silos can deter collaboration between Internal Comms and HR. Often these functions operate independently without sharing information. As a result, employees receive conflicting messages or lack a comprehensive understanding of important initiatives.Encourage regular meetings and joint projects between Internal Comms and HR teams. Implement cross-functional teams that work together on initiatives such as employee engagement campaigns, onboarding processes, and crisis communication plans.
Annual strategy session & content plan Regular cross-functional meetings Roles & responsibility matrix (eg: reviewer, approver) Approval process Project working groups 
Resistance to Change: Employees, especially those in leadership roles, might be resistant to changes in communication methods or processes. This resistance can stem from a fear of disruption or a preference for traditional practices (eg: adoption of a new internal social media platform).Engage key stakeholders from all the relevant departments, allowing them to provide input and take ownership of initiatives. Communicate the benefits of the integrated approach to leadership, highlighting how it will improve efficiency, engagement, and overall performance.
Leadership buy-in through an overall Internal Communication Strategy & Goals Change management working groups
Communication Styles and Channels: HR and Internal Comms might employ different communication styles and channels. HR often relies on formal, structured communication, while Internal Comms may use more informal and creative approaches. This disparity can lead to inconsistent messaging and confusion among employees.Develop a cohesive communication strategy that blends both formal and informal communication styles. Establish clear guidelines for when and how each function’s communication methods should be employed. Emphasize the importance of consistency in messaging, especially during critical organisational events and changes.
Tone of voice guide Channel mix Crisis communication strategy
Lack of Resources: Limited resources, whether in terms of budget, personnel, or technology, can hinder the implementation of integrated strategies between Internal Comms and HR.
If additional resources or budget are required, make the business case to the leadership / decision-makers. Prioritize projects and initiatives based on allocated resources. Work with the IT department to leverage existing technology and tools to streamline communication processes and reduce costs.
Business case for additional resources / budget  Resource and budget allocation based on annual plan  Cross-functional meetings with IT to leverage existing tools and technology 
Measurement and Evaluation: Measuring the impact of integrated efforts between Internal Comms and HR can be challenging. Demonstrating the return on investment and the tangible outcomes of collaboration can be crucial for gaining buy-in from leadership.Establish clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the objectives of both functions. Regularly monitor and analyse the data to assess the effectiveness of collaborative initiatives. Use these insights to refine strategies and showcase the positive impact of the integration on employee engagement, productivity, and organisational culture.Define what success looks like for both teams Define KPI’s and metrics 

While challenges may arise when aligning Internal Comms and HR, they are not insurmountable. By acknowledging these roadblocks and implementing proactive strategies, organisations can create a strong partnership that enhances the corporate culture through effective communication and employee engagement.  

Future Trends and Considerations

Looking ahead, several trends will shape the integration of Internal Comms and HR:

  1. Impact of Technology: New tools and platforms are coming out regularly that can support and enhance employee communication, facilitate remote work, and gather real-time feedback. 
  2. The Role of Data and Analytics: With the rise of new enterprise tools and platforms comes a plethora of data and reporting. Data-driven insights can enable organisations to tailor their communication efforts, understanding which channels and messages resonate best with employees.
  3. Remote Work Considerations: The rise of remote work necessitates innovative communication strategies to ensure remote employees feel connected to the organisation and their colleagues. They need to be informed and engaged to contribute to their teams. The employee lifecycle of a remote employee should be mapped and designed, just as you would for on-site employees. 

In the current competitive landscape of employers, company culture is the secret sauce for employee attraction, engagement, and retention. The working relationship between HR and Internal Comms enables the culture to come to life by nurturing a workforce that is motivated, engaged, and aligned with the organisation’s mission. Organisations that invest in strengthening this relationship are poised for future success, equipped to navigate change, crises, and the evolving landscape of work. 

Kimi Scott-Smith

Director of Consulting, Engage Group

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