It’s always been the case that companies and organizations had to earn the trust, faith and loyalty of their customers so that they could not only survive but prosper. And how they communicated with customers directly influenced the levels of these three key connections.
These days the same applies to employees, particularly when there is a global shortage of skilled talent. It is now difficult to distinguish the diminishing black-white area between employees and customers. The grey area between both is growing, and it is crucial for employers to place as much emphasis on internal communication as external communication in order to move forward together in common purpose, and to not lose high-skilled workers.
Relationships between companies and their current and prospective employees exist along an arc of connection that incorporates employer brand, employee commitment, employee experience, internal communication and culture management. We know that there is increased emphasis on the employer brand when the growth goals of companies increase in times when the economy is going well, and there is greater competition for talented employees. In contrast, in times of economic crisis, we see that the commitment to employee engagement is more prominent.
And during periods of change, internal communication and cultural engagement come to the fore. In short, needs change periodically and over time.
But I doubt that communications can really be effective when they are not organized and managed holistically under a single heading or function instead of all those titles on the arc of connection I mentioned earlier.
In my view, that single heading should be Employer Communication. This concept covers all strategic communication activities that the employer undertakes for existing and potential employees. I have created a formula that inspires me through a closer blending of internal and external communication, which is: employer brand + internal communication = employer communication
The historic separation of company communications into internal and external, into above the line and below the line, should be seen for what it is: an old-fashioned concept that is way beyond its sell-by date. The prevalence of social media has seen to that.
It’s time we viewed company communication in the holistic fashion that it needs to be seen, as employer communication. What we need most is a holistic view of all communications in companies and organizations. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a realistic strategy about how all professionals working in this field should reflect the communication within the organization, how the employee value proposition will really live, and how all these will serve the desired culture.
A good employer communication cannot be without a strategy, and you have to create a value proposition that works to establish this strategy. And central to any strategy is the shortest definition of the employee value proposition (EVP): “what’s in it for me?”. Because if you cannot give employees a valid reason to work with you then everything else will be meaningless for them.
You know your employer brand determines your EVP, your internal communication, your employee commitment, your employee experience, your CEO’s communications, the reason for your activities, goals and targets. Generally, when EVP is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the employer’s brand, but it is a big mistake to think of it in such narrow terms. If you have the right EVP then you have a great pathway to success for everybody.
But there will still be many questions that need careful consideration and straight answers:
- Who do you want to work with and what are the talents you want to attract?
- How do you reach these people and what do you have to do to keep them?
- What do you expect from your employees today?
- What behavioral changes do you expect of them going into the future?
- Does your work environment support these behavioral changes?
- How are you communicating all of this?
- What should be done to keep the organization’s vision, mission and values alive?
The answers to these questions will both help you to build your holistic communication strategy and help you identify any gaps that need to be filled. But the most important question in employer communication increasingly is: are you authentic, are you really as you say you are, are you really the company you present to your internal and external audience, as that dividing line between them shrinks more and more?
Do you really offer the work environment and facilities that you promise current and prospective employees, or is it all an illusion? Because if you’re not, if your communication isn’t authentic, if it doesn’t represent a true reality, you will find yourself on a road that will not lead to success.
So, to have any real chance of travelling on that road to success, truly be what you say you are (and it must be the same for both your internal and external audiences) communicate it clearly and consistently, and define a powerful employee value proposition!