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Putting Heart into HR...

...and sowing the seeds of Employer Branding


People, we need to talk.


How did we get to a place where a lot of people comms are not written for people?


Let’s say it’s because HR didn't come from a great place, evolving more from a business regulatory standpoint and less from a people-centric one. But evolved it has and any company that isn’t taking the opportunity to redress the balance is going to lose out to those that are.


Big brands do it well. With lots of HR obligations to meet and compliance issues to adhere to, they save time and heartache by positioning those messages in a people friendly context and using a Tone of Voice that employees can develop a relationship with.  


Let’s talk about humanising communications and building employer branding.

Because here’s the thing: if your brand has traditionally had a huge marketing budget but no HR comms budget, you are missing a trick.  


Attracting the people who deliver your product or service is just as important as attracting the people who buy it.

 

I recently had the pleasure of running a workshop with a HR team from a leading insurance group. These guys were both professional and personable – easy to chat to and confident. They knew their stuff. They all want to do a good job. The only issue?


When they sat down to write with their professional hats on, all the personable-ness went out the window!


Isn’t it ironic that a lot of comms coming out of your HR department, whether to the whole company, a team or to an individual, can be some of the least human you’ll ever have the misfortune to read?


The irony is that the team that needs to be the most human – the clue is in the name – is the least relatable to?


In lots of companies, HR is still viewed only as a necessary evil: the silo where payroll is processed and people are hired, fired and disciplined in-between times.


In forward-thinking places where people are seen less as a resource and more as an asset – and people are always any company’s biggest asset – HR teams aren’t just in the business of enforcing rules and regulations. They’re all about engagement and motivation.


HR has come a long way since its formative days as a necessary evil.


The phrasing Personnel Management has been made redundant.  


And you might have noticed that the term Human Resources is going the same way.



While another a survey from Deloitte found that 73% of employees felt that the term “People” conveyed a sense of partnership and collaboration.


And what is the real outcome of that? A shift in dynamic. A softening of hierarchies. A blurring of lines and the nurturing of a more collaborative, co-operative culture where people talk with each other, not at each other.


This is all reflective of the changing nature of the workplace, the big shift to remote working and the increasing sense of flexibility that employees can now command.


More pointedly, the People dept is now less about enforcement and more about engaging the needs and aspirations of the individual.



And it’s important to remember that how we work will continue to change. Where’s my four day week already??


The benefit for businesses or brands like yours? HR is infinitely more strategic: today’s HR people take care of everything from talent acquisition to employee relations, compensation and benefits through organizational development, to workforce planning.


And that all makes it critical to business success.


But only if you can connect with people!


As a HR professional, you're not just managing policies and procedures: you're shaping the very essence of your organisation's culture and brand. This is where the art of copywriting comes into play, breathing life and heart into HR functions.

 
The Essence of Employer Branding

Employer Branding goes beyond logos and taglines; it's about the perception employees have of the company and the emotional connection they feel towards it.


Effective copywriting can play a pivotal role in shaping this perception by communicating the company's values, mission and culture in a compelling and relatable way.


When employees feel aligned with the company's brand and values, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal. Good copywriting helps articulate these values in a way that resonates with employees, making them feel like an integral part of something bigger than themselves.


The Challenge of Regulations and Compliance


While communicating the company's brand and values is crucial, HR professionals often find themselves navigating a maze of regulations and compliance requirements. Whether it's communicating changes to benefits, explaining new policies, or addressing sensitive issues like harassment or discrimination, there's a fine line between being informative and being impersonal.


Stringent regulations can sometimes make HR communications seem dry and bureaucratic. However, this doesn't mean that the human element should be lost. Copywriting can help strike a balance by translating complex regulations into human and conversational language that employees can easily understand and relate to.


The Power of ‘Peopling’ HR Communications

So, how do you give heart to HR? Here are some tips to humanise your employee branding and communications through copywriting:



Speak Their Language


Use simple, clear, and jargon-free language that resonates with employees. Avoid using legalistic or bureaucratic language that can alienate your audience.


The best way to do this? Develop a distinct Tone of Voice guide for your HR team.


They can use this as a reference tool when writing anything from an email to an intranet post. The bonus? Your communications begin to sound more cohesive and that’s good for your culture.  




Tell Stories


Stories are a powerful way to connect with people on an emotional level. Share real-life examples of employees who embody the company's values or have benefited from its policies and programmes.



Show Empathy


Acknowledge the emotions and concerns of your employees. Whether it's addressing fears about organisational changes or celebrating successes, showing empathy can go a long way in building trust and rapport.

 

Be Transparent


Transparency builds credibility and trust. If there are changes or challenges ahead, be upfront about them. Honest and open communication fosters a culture of transparency and accountability.


Encourage Two-Way Communication


Don't just broadcast information; encourage feedback and dialogue. Listen to your employees' concerns, ideas, and suggestions. This not only makes them feel valued but also provides valuable insights that can help improve HR practices and policies.

 

Giving heart to HR is about creating a culture of communication that values and respects the individuality and humanity of each employee.


Copywriting can be a powerful tool in achieving this by humanising HR communications and making them more engaging, relatable, and impactful.



By focusing on clear, empathetic, and transparent communication, HR professionals can build stronger connections with employees, enhance the company's brand and culture, and ultimately, drive organizational success.

 

Here's why a friendly and conversational tone matters


Enhances Understanding and Clarity


Using jargon-free and conversational language makes HR policies more accessible and easier to understand for everyone, regardless of their role or level within the organisation. When employees can easily grasp the content of a policy, they are more likely to comply with it, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or unintentional violations.

 

Builds Trust and Rapport


A friendly tone fosters a sense of trust and openness between HR and employees. When HR communications feel more like a conversation rather than a formal directive, employees are more likely to feel valued, respected, and heard. This can lead to increased employee engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction.

 




Encourages Engagement and Participation


Conversational HR communications invite employees to engage, ask questions, and provide feedback. When employees feel that their input is welcomed and valued, they are more likely to actively participate in discussions, share ideas, and contribute to the improvement of HR policies and practices.


Humanises the Workplace


A friendly tone humanises the workplace by acknowledging the individuality and humanity of each employee. It reminds employees that, behind every policy and procedure, is a team of people who care about their well-being and success. This can help create a more inclusive, empathetic, and supportive work environment.


Improves Employee Experience


A positive employee experience is closely tied to how policies and procedures are communicated and implemented. A friendly and conversational tone can contribute to a more positive employee experience by making HR interactions more pleasant, approachable, and engaging. This can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, retention, and overall well-being.

 

Facilitates Change Management


When implementing new policies or making changes to existing ones, a friendly and conversational tone can help ease the transition and reduce resistance. By framing changes in a positive and inclusive manner, HR can help employees understand the reasons behind the changes, the benefits they will bring, and how they can adapt to them more effectively.


 

In summary, adopting a friendly and conversational tone in the day-to-day implementation of HR policies is not just a matter of style—it's a strategic approach that can have a profound impact on organisational culture, employee engagement, and overall business success.


By communicating with employees in a way that is clear, friendly, and inclusive, HR professionals can build stronger relationships, foster trust, encourage participation, and ultimately, create a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to succeed.


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