At Smith we think internal communications is special.
What makes it special? Employees, of course.
When we do our jobs well employees access opportunities that can help them stay healthier, enjoy retirement and put their kids through college. And employers maximize their valued employee relationships. Special.
Same Tools, Different Rules.
On the surface, communication looks the same across many fields and disciplines.
Marketing, advertising, public relations and employee communicators all use similar tools and techniques. We all might create a brochure, website, or video intended to reach targeted audiences and produce desired outcomes. We all think strategically and creatively when presenting choices to our audiences. We all try to write clear and impactful messages.
The key difference is in the relationships we each have with our audiences and the ethical restraint that relationship requires.
Smith’s clients occupy a position of trust with their employees; an ethos that informs and defines the tools we use and the persuasive approaches we take. False promises, outrageous promotions and scare tactics may work in sales, but they have no place in employee communication.
Unfortunately, new players who don’t get this are moving into the HR communications space. Many of these firms consult clients on employee communication without experience in or appreciation for the ethical responsibilities inherent in it.
Seeing employees as no different from any other anonymous end user, they recommend techniques and technologies intended to invisibly commoditize employee data and behaviors. Marketing what they call “results-driven” communication, these organizations promote:
- Engaging in indiscriminate data collection.
- Commingling personal and professional data.
- Monitoring data that evaluates employee performance against often unstated wellness, training and other goals.
- Using behavioral science techniques, such as “gamification,” to influence employees “behind the scenes.”
- Advocating for the use of apps to create AI-generated biases for or against criteria that’s not transparent to the user.
Solutions like these often have a myriad of analytical tools. However, these types of techniques and technologies show little appreciation for the pivotal role an employer plays in an employee’s life.
Employees want to trust their organizations to be faithful to the promises they make and transparent in the messages they communicate. Employers need to trust employees to be reliable in their actions and transparent in their interactions with the organization.
This reciprocal bond, when nurtured and protected through open and honest communication, runs deeper and lasts longer, than the often-short-term results generated by commercial, transactional communication.
Employees are key to organizational success. They deserve special treatment.