Communication has gained new currency amid the COVID-19 crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic leads to the reimagining of ‘Future of Work’, employee engagement is a key to ensuring an open-door communication policy, facilitating their access to information and resources, and ensuring their overall well-being. This is essential to impart of sense of belongingness among employees as the majority of them are working from home and there has been an expansion of the gig economy model to the white-collar workforce. A comprehensive employee engagement policy will also ensure cohesiveness among employees, maximize productivity besides making their experiences lively and interactive. A University of Zagreb study has highlighted found that when employees are satisfied with their companies’ internal communication, they are far more likely to be motivated at work to maximize their productivity. All this implies an ever-widening role of the HR function in reinventing ‘future of work’ to ensure firms’ smooth transition into the post-COVID world.
However, the significance of collaboration during the pandemic and the need for diverse skill-sets has somewhat blurred the compartmentalization in job roles. Communication professionals have a great potential to augment the efforts of the HR function in employee engagement through a robust internal communication policy. Internal communication is a key metric of ensuring a vibrant culture and wholesome employee experience.
Communication professionals bring empathy, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to the table. Their strategic insights can play a vital role in aiding the HR function to develop a unique employee engagement strategy tailored to the organizational culture. Moreover, their nuanced understanding of communication and listening potential, ability to deploy a diverse mix of channels, assessment of communication impact through data-driven insights and receptivity to employee feedback as key traits, can play a pivotal role in enriching employee engagement policies. It is noteworthy that the goal of any communication and engagement policy, whether internal or external, is the same, that is, to build trust among the concerned stakeholders(employees as key stakeholders in case of internal communication) to make them feel valued, motivated and a part of the organization. This further builds the case for communication professionals to be seen as custodians of employee engagement within the organization.
Moreover, the role of Human Resource and Public Relations are entwined with each other. Conducive HR policies play a pivotal role in enhancing the overall reputation of the company. The higher the company succeeds in earning the trust and goodwill of its stakeholders including employees, the higher the chances of HR to attract and retain top talent.
Organizations need to foster two-way communication by creating a cadre of emphatic leadership equipped with sound interpersonal skills. A 2014 study by Towers Watson highlighted that companies with leaders and managers as effective communicators can lead to a highly engaged workforce, high retention rate as well as higher incidences of attraction of the top talent.
It is here that the role of communication professionals becomes paramount in providing various forms of content and methods to foster employee engagement. Communication professionals also have a role to play in intensifying day to day communication through augmenting Learning and Development(L&D) efforts in organizations. The first vital step of implementing employee engagement is to equip line managers with sound interpersonal and empathetic skills as they are the ones who are involved in day-to-day interaction with people within the company. Their learning and coaching can also provide an insight into each employee’s potential and how it can be leveraged to the company’s advantage. The communication professionals can also complement the efforts in selecting and deploying an appropriate mix of tools such as weekly newsletter, use of social media, intranet, grievance redressal mechanism and employee resource groups to fulfil core objectives of employee engagement. Ubiquitous Internet connectivity and the proliferation of advanced technologies have unlocked their immense potential to be used as key enablers for employee engagement. However, it is to be remembered that technology is only a means for achieving these objectives and employees are at the centrepiece of engagement policies.
Communication professionals are key assets for an internal communication team in organizations in fostering an ethical, transparent and open communication culture- a cornerstone of an engaged workforce to achieve tangible business outcomes.
Authored article by Khushboo Solanki Sharma, Founder of Zero Gravity Communications.