Let’s face it, in the days of accountability and a legal position on responsible staff welfare, what right thinking boss wouldn’t want someone overseeing employee matters?
But how far does the human resources remit really go in ensuring our staff feel engaged, respected and understood within the company’s long-term objectives?
There’s a curious blurring of departmental lines opening up in organisations everywhere, and, planned or not, it appears to be bringing our HR and PR functions ever closer together.
Sound an unlikely meeting of minds?
Well, it shouldn’t.
Today’s PR team or external practitioner knows that their job is as much about delivering the right internal communications strategy, as it is about gaining zillions of column inches in media targeted at the outside world.
Why spend the marketing budget on telling those outside of the business how incredibly brilliant your brand and service is – when staff feel disconnected, deliver poor PR messaging in their own social circles, and are always on the look for a chance to move to your competitor?
This is where the marriage of HR and PR performs a highly effective collaboration, where employee engagement is concerned.
Let’s see it from the eyes of the HR professional first.
Their job is broadly engaged in trying to recruit and retain great staff who feel valued and who perform well.
Nothing makes it harder for a business to recruit first class professionals than for the company to be carrying a lousy reputation around its neck like a lead weight.
Further still, is the idea that the company may have no notable brand or reputation altogether.
Why does a talented driven career-seeker want to be part of an unknown business brand, or at least an unknown that has no intention of raising its game and becoming an industry competitor?
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to recruit good staff, our hard-working HR director wants to know that the individual will be retained for a reasonable time and not feel isolated from the company’s growth plans and wider messaging.
So talent management is hard enough without sound brand reputation…and that, of course, is aided by our capable PR professional.
Whether in-house or externally contracted, the public relations team want the business to have sound brand awareness in the wider world, but also to know that the communications strategy filters throughout the walls of the organisation.
It benefits their efforts for staff to be on-message, to be generating story potential in the mere practice of their work, and to be highly motivated toward company goals.
PR measures like internal newsletters, in addition to the peer-competitiveness of seeing fellow staff in the media, therefore sit perfectly alongside the HR team’s efforts to create a truly holistic approach to employee engagement.
You can’t expect great internal or external PR to radiate from staff who feel unappreciated as a result of the current HR delivery.
Likewise, you cannot ever believe you’ll recruit or retain the best industry talent if the communication channels within and the brand reputation outside is as poor as could be.
Gone are the days of departments in isolation and a notice board for a lousy communication channel.
Get your PR and HR in sync. It’s undoubtedly the way forward.
HR Director Caroline Farren-Hines, of RehabWorks, says:
“For a business like ours, with more than 100 employees, across multiple sites, employee engagement is really important and we put a lot of effort into ensuring that the staff feel part of our long-term objectives, as well as day to day activity. We host an entire ‘away weekend’ every year, both to gain opinions and foster an improved sense of team-working.
From our perspective, having a PR professional working closely alongside the HR delivery means that they help us best communicate our intentions internally and externally, and ensures we’re not missing an opportunity to improve relationships with our staff or our stakeholders.
It can be as simple as me being able to ask the PR consultant the best approach to our targeted recruitment campaign, or gaining a professional communications perspective on how important social media is to our employee engagement. I see the two business services working much closer together.”