HR as Communicators

Creating important employee messages is often seen as the responsibility of the HR Department.  While communication, in general, is a competence that many in HR excel at, the reality is that HR professionals are not typically trained as copywriters, editors nor does HR always have the time to develop detailed communication plans.  Since it is likely though that HR will continue to be relied on to produce and deliver notifications, here are some things to consider when someone says, ‘’Just give it to HR to send out.”  

Handle with Care

Imagine a business who is changing their pay cycle from bi-weekly pay to semi-monthly.  On the surface, this seems straightforward.  It might appear that all it would take is a company-wide email to let people know.  However, a topic like pay has to be handled with sensitivity and with the utmost clarity. 

What could the impact be to an employee’s monthly pay?  How will this affect their ability to pay bills and meet their financial commitments?  What is the rationale for making this change? Until all factors have been considered, a broadcast email is probably not the best strategy.  In preparing for such notices, take time to anticipate potential reactions, gather questions from a select group of employees to develop a list of FAQ’s, consider what reasonable notice is, and then create the messaging with these in mind to determine the best way to deliver the information. 

Email is Like a Wrapped Gift

Email is the default for many companies and does have its benefits.  However, for some, emails are like a wrapped gift… for those who leave notifications turned on, they get curious when they have a new message and it’s hard to resist the urge to open it to see what’s inside.  Once that happens, productivity and focus may take a dive, making it hard to get back into the work they were doing before they opened the message.

HR Adds Value 

If communication falls to you or your HR team, here are 4 ways you can help to ensure that messages get noticed and offer value, instead of being a source of disruption. 

  • Shift from Order Taker to Business Partner:  When you are asked to send an email to employees, clarify the who, what, when, why and how. Once you have all of that, maybe an email is not the best channel, and perhaps not all employees need the information. 
  • Use the Most Impactful Channel: Be clear on the outcome you want to achieve.  Is it to inform or educate, train on a new skill, get commitment? Depending on the objective, there are various options.  Use broadcast emails wisely, and with purpose and also consider internal social channels, team meetings, leaders as messengers, or have a live announcement or link to a recording. 
  • Be Inclusive: Know your audience. What time zones are they in, are they on the road, what is their preferred language? Avoid acronyms, corporate jargon and departmental code speak that not everyone may be familiar with. 
  • Be Brief & Succinct:  Studies show that you have about 100 words to keep someone’s attention in an email.  Get to the point and make sure if there is a Call to Action that it’s at the beginning. There is nothing worse than reading a long email and getting to the bottom only to realize there is a request buried somewhere in it. 


Implementing even one of these practices will increase your credibility as someone who understands that communicating to influence behaviours and create outcomes, means tailoring to your audience – from content to delivery method. 

If you would like to learn more about how to develop, deliver and/or advise the business on effective communication, attend our next ElevatingHR workshop.  We cover all this and lots more about HR in Real Life!