4 Top Tips for Overcoming HR & Change Challenges with Internal Comms
— June 6th, 2023
Most organizations have been through a whirlwind of change in recent years, and nobody needs a crystal ball to know that companies can expect more of the same going forward.
Whether you’re adapting to a different work model, trying to shift company culture, or undergoing a merger or acquisition and need restructuring, change is and will be inevitable.
Many factors will determine whether your change plans and initiatives succeed or fail, but one of the single most important determinants—always—is communication. Poorly communicated change initiatives are doomed to failure. On the other hand, HR and Internal Comms working closely together to deliver well-developed and clearly articulated change plans can play a critical role in driving successful outcomes.
A recent Poppulo webinar focused on exploring several ways organizations can overcome change challenges, specifically looking at the role of HR and Communications teams. We looked at four major strategies by which leaders in an organization can leverage communications to solve key HR and change challenges—which we’ll dive into in a moment.
If you want to dig deeper into the discussion, you can watch the full webinar on-demand here. But to give you an overview of what to expect, here are the key takeaways.
1. Engage Internal Comms When You Define Your Problem
It’s common to immediately jump to the easiest or most obvious solution when you identify a problem. But in many cases, the problem affects more than one department, and teams forget to engage other parts of the organization that need to be involved. Before jumping to a solution, it’s critical to answer questions like: What’s the challenge? What problem are you looking to solve? What is your vision for success and how do you define it
Change always starts with people, so the first step is to engage departments that are in constant communication with your employees: Internal Communications and HR.
By engaging Internal Comms early in the process, they can help make sure everyone in the company is on the same page by communicating to employees on the most effective channels with the most effective message.
This allows Transformation teams to focus on shaping the future vision so that they don’t have to worry about the specifics of how this vision is communicated to employees.
There are two crossroads where we engage with change and transformation professionals first, after they’ve already started implementing solutions—which is usually too late—or when they first identify the problem—which is when we can have a real impact."
– Andrew Hubbard, Director of Internal Communications & Engagement at Poppulo
2. Know Your Audience—And Recognize That They Have Changed
The modern workforce is no longer a homogenous group. After the pandemic hit, a new generation entered the workforce, and you likely have employees of all ages with diverse experiences, perspectives, and expectations. As a result, HR professionals and communicators must adapt their approach to support the needs of the new generation entering the workforce.
In addition to generational challenges, there’s also a need to recognize that employees work from different locations, in different roles, and communicate differently—especially since the pandemic.
We have lab technicians, manufacturing and supply chain workers, and office workers—and they’re all distributed worldwide. Each of these workers has a different context, and a one-size-fits-all communications approach won’t work."
–Ricardo Troiano, Global Head of Organizational Change & Development at Syngenta Group
Organizations must re-learn how to engage with this dynamic and evolving workforce. Learn what your employees care about and frame change in a way that shows the direct impact on each individual’s role. More likely than not, after communicating a change, most employees will immediately ask, "How will this impact me?". Companies should consider how they talk about change and leverage IC teams to identify the most effective way to present it to employees.
3. Change is Uncomfortable, So Embrace Vulnerability
People are naturally uncomfortable with the unknown. And changes implemented since the onset of the pandemic have led to many unknowns, leaving employees feeling uncomfortable and disconnected.
The shift toward hybrid and remote work has eliminated the impromptu interactions that were so vital for building relationships and creating a sense of connection in the workplace. And when employees can’t connect with coworkers in the hallway or at the coffee bar, it’s up to leadership to step up and offer vulnerability.
Leadership and HR teams need to empathize with employee sentiment and recognize how they’re feeling. When leaders and employees can be vulnerable with each other, it creates a sense of trust and openness that’s essential for building strong relationships and a healthy work environment.
Leadership needs to be more vulnerable—and allow that space for employees to be vulnerable. HR teams should understand and empathize with employee sentiment and how those feelings are happening. We move fast, and it doesn’t always feel okay to be vulnerable."
– Rachel Brownlee, Human Resources Manager at International Feed Corporation
Through these shared experiences, employees will understand that feeling uncertain or uncomfortable is okay. They can talk about those feelings without fear of judgment or repercussion, resulting in them being more willing to embrace change.
4. Measure, Measure, Measure!
To understand how effective the changes you make are, you need to measure the impact of change. And this starts with identifying the key metrics that need to be tracked and benchmarking your position over time.
But this requires looking beyond descriptive analytics and raw data. Companies should leverage technology to look at predictive analytics and paint a picture of potential outcomes. Eventually, you can move toward using prescriptive analytics to identify options to drive business results, giving you a closer view of your workforce and how it moves to impact outcomes and business strategies.
When measuring the impact of change, remember that it’s not just about asking whether people have received the message—it’s about asking whether they actually understand what’s being communicated to them. By doing so, you can get a clearer picture of how effective your communication efforts are and whether further changes need to be made. To achieve this level of understanding, you should regularly check in on the key metrics you’ve identified and adjust your approach as needed.
Let Poppulo Help You Reach the People with the Information they Need to Know
Enforcing change in an organization can be challenging for a variety of reasons, but one of the top challenges is communicating change to employees and customers, especially if you don’t have the right tools and people to help.
The Poppulo platform makes it easy to communicate with any audience via the channel they prefer—including email, digital signage, mobile devices, Intranet, collaboration tools, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about how Poppulo can help you more effectively introduce change in your organization by reaching all of your audiences with the information they need to know, reach out to us today.