Our perceptions become our reality and our reality shapes our actions and behaviour. Therefore, for HR to truly make a meaningful difference, truth, authenticity and connection must be at the heart of the HR agenda.
All too often, HR focuses on legislative compliance, often at the expense of creating a more meaningful and positive experience for employees. When it comes to HR policies and practices, the employee experience is often an afterthought or an altogether missed opportunity.
We’ve all seen them: traditional HR letters that use cold and procedural language. The letters cover all policy requirements and employee rights, but they fail in their delivery to leave a positive impression. It’s no wonder HR as a profession gets a bad reputation among many employees.
Compliance is of course incredibly important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of a well thought out and positive employee experience.
We are experiencing times of unprecedented change and transition, both as a profession and economically. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the surge in popularity and reliance on social media, and the increasing use of technology, it has never been more important to build meaningful and lasting connections with employees.
It makes great business sense to focus on employee relationships and connections as a means of creating and maintaining a competitive edge, increasing commitment and productivity, and keeping at bay the negative side effects that poorly managed change inevitably brings.
We know being an employer of choice is created through offering market-leading earnings or a positive, inclusive and supportive culture and a great employee experience, so the impact of HR refocusing efforts in this area cannot be understated.
The profession will greatly benefit from being more intentionally well considered and thoughtful, demonstrating a deep empathy for the employee experience. There are a several ways we can bring about positive change that will help to strengthen our connection with employees:
Engagement by design
When writing a new policy or process, we need to consider the perceptions and experiences this will create. We need to minimise and, where possible, remove any negative impact or association. The language we choose to use is a very powerful tool for creating a memorable and lasting impression. We need to remove any lingering traditional parent-child speak from communication and engage with employees using a more empathetic and adult-to-adult style of language. Language needs to be simple, clear, empathetic, conversational and easy to follow.
HR and marketing
HR would benefit from adopting the style and approach of a content writer; a content writer focuses on creating compelling content that engages and influences the reader. We want to engage our workforce and secure their buy in; therefore, great writing is a key and necessary skill of any talented HR professional.
A well-written policy, process or letter is only the starting point – the biggest impact is created by how those interactions, difficult discussions and messages are delivered. How that interaction is received and perceived by the employee is key for influencing their thoughts, feelings and response. Managers have a crucial role to play, their interpersonal effectiveness and emotional intelligence is important for ensuring a positive outcome and experience.
Training around effective relationship management and interpersonal effectiveness is key to an enduring positive relationship and for fostering that sense of commitment and belonging to the organisation.
Transparency is key to building trust and for growing and maintaining respect; open, honest and regular communication is critical to genuine authenticity.
Putting employees and their experiences at the centre of our thinking and writing will go a long way to securing a positive culture, a strong organisational commitment and a competitive edge.
Philippa Lucarz is HR director at Myerscough College