One of the things that is unique about human resources is the large number of internal and external entities involved in producing employee communications. There are vendor providers communicating healthcare, 401(k) and other benefits plans. There are consulting firms communicating compensation plans, employee surveys, and other HR projects. And there are internal communicators and HR staffers trying to communicate everything else. All these entities independently create websites, brochures sent to employee homes, break room posters, e-mails, and a host of other collateral materials.
Individually, these vendors and consultants have tremendous knowledge, outstanding best practices and enormous resources to get the job done. But collectively, their messages aren’t consistent with one another or aligned with the organization’s business strategies, the timing of their communications isn’t coordinated, and the look and feel of their materials often isn’t on brand. In a worst case scenario, uncoordinated communications can result in discord and undermine other communication efforts within the organization.
But imagine the synergy that could be created if the vendors and consultants who work with your organization were aligned. Here are eight ways employee communication professionals can coordinate them to create more powerful employee communications:
- Get to know your vendors and consultants. Compile a complete list of who’s who. There likely are many more entities than you think that are producing communications that are being sent to your employees. In addition to the large healthcare and 401(k) providers, there may be dental, vision, long-term and short-term disability, and employee discount vendors, and a wide variety of consultants working on a plethora of projects.
- Create a master employee communication calendar and work with vendors and consultants on the content and timing of their communications. Know what messages they are sending and when they are sending them. Ensure that key messages the vendors are sending aren’t in conflict with broader organizational messaging, and ensure that the timing of the vendor communications doesn’t conflict with other organizational communications.
- Provide vendors and consultants with the organization’s vision and mission statement, and broad organizational messaging. Encourage them to incorporate key organizational messages into their materials when appropriate. Of course, many vendors use standard language and may not be willing to make any copy changes. But you can always ask. If they can’t change the text, maybe they can change a heading to better represent the organization.
- Provide vendors with organizational stylebooks, branding guides, graphic standards, high-quality logos and appropriate stock photographs. Vendors may be willing to incorporate your organization’s branded look and feel into the design of their communications and website landing pages. Many vendors use template designs and can’t make any changes. But again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In some cases, they may be able to change the colors they are using to the organization’s colors.
- Consolidate links on the organization’s intranet to the various vendor websites. Make it easy for employees to find the HR vendor they are seeking and make it clear that all of these offerings are part of a comprehensive employee benefits package.
- Review vendor websites that have been customized for your organization. Check for consistency with organizational messages, brand vocabulary and organizational branding. Suggest changes.
- Review vendor contracts to see if all communication and educational requirements are being fulfilled. Often a healthcare vendor agrees to spend a certain dollar amount per year on employee communication materials or a 401(k) vendor agrees to provide a specified number of employee workshops per year. Sometimes these requirements are forgotten over the years and you may discover an untapped resource.
- Review how your benefits offerings are named. Are they named after your organization or after the vendor? For example, instead of “the Fidelity 401(k) Plan” perhaps it should be named “the XYZ Corporation Employee Savings Plan.”
Your vendors and consultants are communicating with your employees. Make sure they are working in a unified effort with you.
What additional ideas do you have to coordinate and leverage vendor and consultant communications?
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