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Creating a written communication plan helps an HR professional define the audiences, establish objectives, set priorities, get sponsorship and determine the scope of all initiatives. Having a plan helps keep the department on track and sets expectations. Communication typically includes all paper and digital messages generated by the department, including job descriptions, surveys, legal documents, reports and training presentations.
A comprehensive HR communication plans sets expectations about the types of information your department will distribute in the coming year. Without a detailed plan, employees and managers lack guidance in HR functions, such as benefits administration, recruiting and hiring, performance management, rules for discipline, and training and development. Creating a website to provide access to this communication allows all company employees to get the information just when they need it. By regularly evaluating the success of your communication mechanisms, you can ensure that your initiatives produce a return on investment.
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Conduct an Audit
Conduct an audit to evaluate your current communication strategy. Find out what types of communication your department sends out and how frequently. Determine what results the campaigns produce. Consider reducing the amount of paper your HR organization distributes and focus on producing email, online newsletters and electronic copies of policies and procedures. These are more accessible, easier to maintain and less expensive. Conduct focus groups with employees and managers to gather information about the types of communication employees want and when it is most effective. For example, during annual performance reviews, managers and employees typically seek out career development guidance.
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Define your communication strategy objectives. For example, your goal may be to centralize all communications and develop a brand identity for all documents distributed by your HR function, using a standard color scheme. Refer back to your audit to determine if your current objectives meet the needs of your employees and managers. For example, if new employees want more orientation materials, include preparing comprehensive organizational overview information in your plan. Come up with objectives for internal communications to employees, and public information for media relations and potential job candidates.
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List the audiences your department needs to contact. These typically include employees and their managers, business partners, the media and suppliers. Each audience expects different levels of information, but your plan should address how to present a cohesive representation of your HR department.
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Identify a standard set of tools, templates and techniques to produce communication for your company. For example, use templates for flyers, brochures and posters or develop your own formats.
Create a logo. Including a logo on your communication creates a consistent appearance.
Producing communication documents typically requires the use of several different types of software to build presentations, spreadsheets, charts, graphics and other visuals. Communication using social media technology also typically involves recording audio podcasts or video and writing blogs, wikis or forum entries. Make sure your staff has the training and experience to develop quality materials or outsource production to established suppliers to get professional output.
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Establish a Calendar
Establish a calendar for publications. For example, publish newsletters on a monthly basis, distribute financial reports on a quarterly basis and publish internal policies and procedures on an annual basis. By clearly defining what you plan to produce and when you plan to publish, you limit the number of ad hoc requests. This keeps your staff focused on producing consistent deliverables and providing a decisive message about the programs your HR department supports.
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Create a Document
Create a document that describes your plans. Use a communication plan template or develop your own format. For example, create an executive summary and list your objectives. Add headings for each type of document you plan to produce. Specify a description, delivery method, frequency, audience and development resource owner for each type. Send your document to company executives to get their approval on the plan.
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Evaluate your results. Conduct online surveys using tools to get opinions on the relevancy of the communication your produce. By monitoring employee and partner satisfaction with communication mechanisms you can ensure your HR communication objectives support your company’s strategic plan and contributes to profitability.
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People need HR information to do their jobs. They require up-to-date job descriptions, communication about benefits, and timely details about deadlines for applications and submissions. Without a comprehensive communication plan for an HR organization that addresses internal and external communcation, your HR department appears disjointed.
A communication plan sets expectations about the deliverables, such as newsletters, podcasts and organizational updates. By providing a consistent message to all employees, the HR department adheres to local, state and federal regulations as well. Set up a plan that describes your objectives on how to communicate most efficiently and effectively with all your employees, business partners and managers, and you can prevent unnecessary misunderstandings and conflict.
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References and Image Credit
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons - Niki K
Patterson, Sally J., and Janel M. Radtke. Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organization: Seven Steps to Creating a Successful Plan. 2nd ed. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009.