Should HR and Internal Communications Collaborate for Better Employee Engagement?

March 2, 20168:05 am3471 views

A survey of over 500 Internal Communications (IC) professionals has identified a potentially hazardous lack of employee engagement. According to the report – carried out by the global recruitment specialist for corporate and marketing communications, VMA Group – a worrying number of IC experts are looking to jump ship.

Employee Engagement Specialists disengaged

The fifth annual Internal Communications market survey by VMA Group, found that 79% of those surveyed will, or would potentially, be looking for a new job over the next year. Two thirds of respondents also admitted that they would move to a competitor to do the same role for a £10k pay-rise.

Andrew Harvey, Director of Internal Communications Practice, VMA Group, comments: “It’s shocking to note that so many of the professionals, who are ultimately responsible for engaging the workforce on behalf of the company, are seemingly disengaged. Internal communications professionals are the frontline of staff conversations and are responsible for instilling corporate visions and values in everything employees do.”

“If they themselves are happy to jump ship for a better pay packet, this sentiment could trickle through the rest of the company. The challenge now is how to reengage this section of the workforce to not only retain potentially critical talent, but also drive wider staff satisfaction.”

See: Employee Engagement: How to Create an Engaged Workplace?

HR and IC Must Work together

The report also revealed an overlap between HR and Internal Communications skills requirements. Employee engagement was listed as one of the top competencies needed in the IC arena, with 69% of those surveyed flagging this as a key skill. Influencing and coaching senior leaders were also ranked as highly important.

According to Harvey, these figures demonstrate a need for HR and IC teams to collaborate: “The line between the internal communication and human resources remit is becoming increasingly blurred. Both functions are engaging with the same audience, so it makes sense that the two work together. And with both departments constantly seeking a stronger voice in the boardroom, collaboration could be a real game-changer.”

One of the survey respondents, Kate Jones, Head of Internal Communications at Tarmac, adds: “Get a bunch of internal communicators together and it won’t be long before they’re debating who owns employee engagement. The answer, increasingly, is that engagement is shared territory between communications, HR and change professionals. Our tactical skills are a given; we need to become as astute on politics and partnerships.”

Biggest Challenge for IC Professionals in the Next Five Years

The internal communication as a profession is constantly changing and internal communicators need to be able to adapt and be forward thinking. “It’s about understanding that the next generation of leaders/employees have very different values and all the usual motivations could pretty much go away.”

“I think one of the biggest challenges facing Internal Communication is moving from engaging our employees to empowering them. The old model of command and control is not going to be acceptable for younger generations who want choices and experiences. How do we encourage our leaders to let go?” comments Donna Reeves, Head of Group Internal Communication, Kingfisher Plc.

Also read: 16 Predictions for Employee Engagement in 2016

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