How A Unified Communication Strategy Can Strengthen Recruitment and Retention
December 15, 2022
An organization's recruitment and retention strategies are essential to its success.
A Glassdoor study shows that the average cost of hiring a new employee in the U.S. is $4,000—and that's an optimistic estimate. Gallup calls voluntary turnover a "fixable problem" that costs businesses in the U.S. $1 trillion. This includes not only the expense of replacing employees but also the indirect costs that come with losing your reliable winners, problem solvers, and innovators.
That's why it's vital to have a unified communication strategy that helps attract talented individuals and keep them engaged for the long term. By strengthening internal and external communication, you can support the employee journey and create an environment that encourages great employees to join and stay.
What Is a Unified Communication Strategy?
A unified communication strategy is a comprehensive plan that encompasses internal and external communication—allowing for a cohesive approach aligned with your company's core values, mission, and vision. A unified communication strategy also facilitates cooperation and collaboration between your organization’s internal and external stakeholders. It eliminates barriers between crucial players, bringing a wealth of perspective and knowledge to the exercise.
The Role of Unified Communication in Strengthening Recruitment and Retention
We can look at the role of unified communication in strengthening recruitment and retention from both external and internal communication perspectives. They both play a role in influencing potential, active, and former employees.
External communication is the face of your organization. The messaging you use in recruitment campaigns can make a big difference in whether potential candidates come on board. A unified message that speaks to potential and active candidates, alumni, and the public is essential for creating a positive impression, maintaining goodwill and brand trust, and attracting great candidates.
When crafting your external communication, consider what prospective employees are looking for when researching your company and incorporate that into your message.
Internal communication is a powerful tool for influencing active employees and can helping to earn their engagement and retention. Internal communication should align all employees with the company's mission and vision and promote their understanding of the organization’s goals.
Unified Communication in Action
There are numerous areas to combine internal and external communication under a cohesive strategy. We'll cover a few of those areas below. Consider it a jumping-off point in your unified communication journey.
Potential candidates want to know what it’s like to work for your organization, so highlight the culture through your messaging. They'll want to know whether your company's culture will help them thrive and reach their goals. Make sure you mention things like how you communicate, what employee recognition looks like, and the learning and development opportunities you offer.
An organization's alumni will also be looking for this information. If they left voluntarily, they might want to return if the culture has changed positively. Even if they’re settled elsewhere, former employees may consider referring friends or colleagues to opportunities with the organization. You can maintain trust and a positive reputation with both former and potential employees by focusing on how your company's culture is evolving and celebrating its successes.
Potential candidates also want to know what values are essential to the organization. Highlight these core values in recruitment messaging and align them with the real-life practices at play in your organization.
Foregrounding your company values will help potential candidates understand what they can expect if they join your team. It also helps to ensure that your messaging is consistent with what is already being communicated internally.
These values are equally important to communicate to current employees. The alignment between organizational values and employee's own individual core values can be a powerful influence toward engagement and ultimately, retention.
Perks and Benefits
Benefits and perks comprise one of the biggest factors influencing whether a potential candidate will choose to work for your organization. The benefits employees find most attractive can vary across industries, and what people want doesn’t always align with what employers think they want.
Many job seekers value paid time off, flexible working arrangements, parental leave, healthcare insurance, and more. Remember to emphasize in your external messaging the benefits your company does offer to help attract prospective employees who’ll be aligned with your offerings.
Similarly, current employees may not know all of the benefits they have access to, whether it's an unexpected holiday, a gym membership stipend, continuing education support, or anything in-between.
Employees often want to know about the benefits that are available to them. A survey by Willis Tower Watson shows that 39% of employees are willing to leave their current jobs in search of better health benefits. Another 31% would leave in search of flexible work arrangements.
If your company offers benefits that may appeal to current employees, keep them informed. Remind them of insurance coverage, health plans, PTO, and vacation allowances. It's also important to explain how these benefits work and how employees can use them. Such updates will make your team members feel valued and appreciated, as well as increase their loyalty to your organization.
Although organizational changes are common today, only 34% succeed. The failure is often due to a lack of effective internal communication. Change is uncomfortable, so employees will most likely leave if they don't know what’s happening.
Keep employees in the loop by having open conversations and regularly sharing updates. Clearly explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how it will affect them.
Communicating organizational change externally is also crucial. Prospective employees will also benefit from a solid understanding of where your organization is at, where it's headed, and why.
Recognition and Rewards
Reward and recognition programs can help engage, retain, and motivate employees by emphasizing the value their work has on the organization, their colleagues, and the world around them.
Building a culture of appreciation doesn't have to take place exclusively as an internal exercise. Externally showcasing and promoting the great work done by the team is another way to communicate the esteem an organization has for its members.
Growth and Development Opportunities
Current and prospective employees also want to know that your company is committed to their growth. Show them how they can grow and develop in their current roles or take on different organizational roles. Discuss upcoming training sessions, seminars, and other learning opportunities with them.
This information will allow employees to learn new skills and stay up-to-date on industry trends. It can help them progress in their careers within the organization. You can explore different employee development methods and choose the best one to help team members achieve their goals.
Clear and Consistent Communication during Tough Times
During times of crisis, including economic uncertainty and layoffs, employees need to be informed clearly and consistently. When communicating bad news, ensure that you do it honestly and respectfully. Avoid sugarcoating the situation or getting emotional, as this can cause confusion and further damage morale.
Also, ensure that everyone affected is notified at the same time, so there's no room for speculation or rumor-mongering. Communicating well during tough times can increase retention by showing employees they're working with a company that cares about their well-being, success, and future.
External communication is equally crucial during these times. Joining a new organization is a significant life choice. Many prospective employees will want to know what caused the challenges the organization previously faced, and be confident they're making a good choice moving forward by joining.
The Value of Cross-Departmental Collaboration
A unified communication strategy is key to ensuring that employees have a positive experience during various stages of their journey with your company. Cross-departmental collaboration is key to creating an effective and cohesive message that will positively influence each stage of the employee journey. The stages include recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and offboarding of employees.
Here are a few benefits of cross-departmental collaboration in creating a unified communication strategy:
Coherent Branding and Messaging
When departments work together, they ensure that the message they send to potential and active employees is uniform and consistent. Collaboration ensures teams are aligned, which helps avoid conflicting messaging to candidates or employees.
Consider onboarding. When departments work together to develop a consistent message for new hires, they receive the same message across multiple channels during the early days of their role. HR can provide a welcome email with links to resources, the team lead can welcome new hires in person, and the marketing team can create a video explaining the company’s mission and culture. First impressions count, and creating a unified message will help potential and current employees understand your company's values.
The same is true during the retention stage. With a unified communication strategy, all departments work together to create a positive experience for the entire team. For instance, HR can provide feedback on how policies and procedures impact employee satisfaction. The internal comms team can then collaborate with their colleagues in HR on how to communicate and address these issues.
When departments work together, they can also identify different channels to reach potential and current employees. For example, internal communicators and HR can reach out via email or your intranet (or both), while marketing can use social media platforms to communicate the company’s values and mission.
The combined reach of these two channels will allow your message to reach even more potential and active employees. You can also use these channels to create an engaged community of potential and current employees who will help spread the word about your company.
Building Trust and Engagement
Trust and engagement are vital aspects of employee retention and recruitment. Unified messaging has a much better chance of coming across as genuine. When departments collaborate to build cohesive messages, there is less risk of conflicting messages or misunderstandings. This will help build trust, connectivity, and engagement with existing employees in the long run, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.
Tips for Establishing a Unified Internal/External Communication Strategy
Creating a unified communication strategy that strengthens recruitment and retention requires strategic planning, collaboration, and commitment from all departments. Here are some tips to get you started:
Identify the key stakeholders.
Knowing all the stakeholders in the employee journey makes it easier to see whose buy-in you need to achieve cohesive communication.
Make sure to involve everyone from comms, HR, recruiting, marketing, and other departments in the planning process. The flow of information between the involved departments should be two-way. This flow will make creating on-brand and engaging content for potential and current employees easier.
Develop brand guidelines.
Creating a set of thoughtful, cohesive brand guidelines will help ensure all messaging is consistent. The guidelines should include the mission, core values, and any other relevant information that can be used to create a unified narrative. Brand guidelines are key in external marketing to ensure communication is on brand, striking the right tone, and communicating the right value propositions. They can be extended to apply to hiring and retention, too. All departments should use these guidelines when communicating with potential and existing employees to ensure consistency in their messages.
Test the communication strategy internally.
Once you’ve established a unified internal and external communication strategy, it’s time to test it. Start internally and get feedback from employees. Ask if the wording resonates with people and whether it communicates the idea in a way that feels true to the company and their employee experience. Ask if the cadence of communication and the distribution channels feels right, too much, or not enough.
Try measuring metrics as well. Consider looking at open and click rates, at channel adoption, and at timing trends. When are people opening messages? Do they spend significant time digesting each communication? Do people engage via comments, replies, or conversations in another channel?
See whether any confusion arises among your internal team or potential problems with the communication strategy. Testing will help you identify any areas that need improvement before rolling out your strategy externally.
Use the right tools and channels.
Choose the most suitable external and internal communication tools and channels for your audience. Determine which channels your potential and current employees prefer to use.
For example, if your target audience is millennials, social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat may be the best option for external communication. Internally, you can use tools like Slack or an intranet platform to update everyone. If your intranet has Slack and email integrations, it's easy to distribute that massage all at once with minimal effort.
Empowering Active Employees as Brand Ambassadors
Active employees can be influential brand ambassadors for your company. They are the best people to help spread the word about your organization, values, and mission.
Encourage them by providing resources and support to share your messages on their personal channels. Their message can be of great value to candidates looking for more information about your company.
Whether you have an excellent recruitment and retention strategy already or you're struggling to attract and retain top talent, creating a unified internal/external communication strategy could be the key to improvement.
You can also leverage tools like Haystack to make collaboration between different departments easy. Haystack can help you break down communication silos, foster employee connections, and streamline communication that can improve all stages of the employee journey.