When I first started as an HR communication consultant, it took hand-to-hand combat with clients to strong-arm them into using contractions or starting a sentence with the conjunction “And.” Thankfully, most HR folk are beyond this stage
and recognize that using “aren’t” instead of “are not” won’t bring understanding to a screeching halt or give employees another opportunity to slag them off, thinking they’re grammar dolts.
But broadly speaking (See? A conjunction…), employee communications are still relatively nice and easy. You launch a new employee program and a communication campaign to go with it, and then it’s never heard from again. Or there’s the email or video replete with buzzwords, stiff and formal in tone and delivering what you want your employees to know. And let’s not forget the newsletters, brochures, and static intranet sites. You and I both know most are heading straight for the recycling basket.
If you’re churning out this sort of communications and wonder why they’re getting no traction… here it is. Your employees, if they could have it their way, would take communication from you nice and rough.
Pull your mind out of the gutter (I’ll wait) and envision nice and rough employee communications.
You’ll recognize them by their lighthearted or sensational leads and images. They’re the social systems that let employees share their work and ideas. The benefits communications that are commentable and ratable so employees can get
clarification, provide their unique perspective, and find the information that’s
most useful. The employee-generated videos thatpoke fun of the company culture and the employee value proposition that requires a“servant’s heart”—an uncommon description for an expected employee contribution—and comes off more
credible because of it.
Communications needn’t be irreverent to be nice and rough. They just have to be communications that don’t shout CORPORATE from the first image to the last punctuation mark but instead allow employees to chat, problem-solve, and support one another’s personal and professional improvement.
Fran Melmed likes to write everything in lower case letters over on her other blog, free-range communication, because she finds it more aesthetically pleasing… but we took away that freedom from her on FOT because the consistency of capitilization on this blog is more aesthetically pleasing to the editor. Her blog is an offshoot of context communication consulting llc, which Fran founded to help organizations communicate better on workforce issues… imagine that. Organizations not doing a good job communicating around workforce issues…