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Home > News > July 2004 > 22-Jul-2004

HR messages not getting through to UK employees

CEOs are becoming increasingly detached from their employees and poor internal communication is stifling the delivery of HR messages throughout UK based global organisations, according to independent new research published yesterday by Vanson Bourne and Forbidden Technologies.

The results show organisations are in a state of internal 'communications chaos' with HR heads admitting they are failing their global audiences, with poor communication leading to a lack of understanding of company policies, direction and core messages.

Internal Importance - Internal communications is a dedicated function in seven out of ten corporates, and over eighty percent of directors state internal and external communications are of equal importance

HR Responsibility - Internal communications is handled by the HR department in over one third of organisations

Theory Not Practice - Despite the importance of internal communications over sixty percent of HR and communications directors admit their organisations do not communicate well with employees, and forty percent admit employees are not aware of the company vision or future direction

The Detached Boardroom - Global employees receive infrequent or no contact from senior executives who prefer traditional, but increasingly impractical, methods of communication

Technophobia - Traditional tactics are failing but less than one third of companies believe email and intranets are the most effective ways of delivering a message to their global internal audience

The survey questioned 100 heads of internal communications within the UK's top 500 corporates - from HR and corporate communications departments - about the challenges of communicating to a global internal audience.

"Despite the best efforts of HR and comms departmental heads, the research shows that effective internal communication across a disparate network of global offices remains a huge challenge," said Graham Opie, research director, Vanson Bourne. "Its importance is clearly understood, however the study confirms that many corporations lack either the understanding or commitment to turn theory into reality."

Effective communications needs the buy-in of all management layers within the organisation, from staff and office managers in regional offices to boardroom executives. The findings suggest the problem often comes from the top down.

"The board must take the lead on this issue," said Greg Hirst, business development director for Forbidden Technologies. "With only forty percent of board members presenting to employees once or twice a year, senior executives are unlikely to have visibility within their own organisations, and boardrooms are becoming increasingly detached."

"If current forms of electronic communication are perceived as being ineffective, and face to face presentations are impractical, costly and infrequent, it is unsurprising that firms are failing to provide effective internal communications," commented Opie. "With the failure of existing tactics it is clear that firms must look to new ways to deliver the corporate message."

The report identifies video streaming as one such new media development that is gaining increasing support. An overwhelming majority (sixty four percent) of department heads see value in delivering a highly visual, compelling HR and corporate message using video over the Internet. However, less than one in ten firms use video streaming, citing out of date perceptions of high cost and technical complexity.

"Video streaming can solve many of the problems facing today's HR heads, and because no IT investment is required, it is a very cost effective medium," said Hirst. " HR messages can be presented 'live and direct' via the Internet to PC users across the global organisation, regardless of Internet connectivity speed."

In addition to streaming live events direct to the PC, such as CEO presentations, financial statements and even AGMs, video streaming also enables internal departments to deliver recorded video content via email, including HR policy changes, introductions from new senior staff, new product demos and health and safety training.

"The research concludes that many UK companies need to rethink communications strategy if they are to get their message across to a disparate global audience," said Opie. "Current tactics are ineffective and organisations must be prepared to adopt new media technologies to ensure real impact."

"The report indicates that the importance of internal communications is clearly understood, but the key enabling role of new technology is not," concludes Hirst.

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