As an HR practitioner, you and your team work hard to deliver high-quality employee programs to your workforce. When the response to a new program is a tepid “meh,” it’s discouraging. You’re stymied—why the lackluster response?
One reason program adoptions rates falter is that HR professionals mistakenly think a few announcements on the company website or a message attached to pay stubs will suffice. Today’s employee expects a more thoughtful experience in the workplace; one that mirrors how they experience marketing messages outside of work.
The Importance of Employee Communication Message Frequency
Consider a key communications element you may have overlooked: repetition. In the advertising industry, experts pay attention to effective message frequency, the number of times consumers need to hear a message before they take action. You can do the same with your employee communications. Take a page from the marketing industry’s playbook to determine how many times you’ll need to put forth your message.
Although there is not a magic formula, traditional advertising and marketing theories say that consumers need 3 – 7 exposures to a message before they’re ready to take action. In today’s world of informal touch points like social media and SMS marketing, that number might be closer to 10.
Tips for Getting Your HR Message Heard
The key takeaway for marketing-minded HR leaders is that you most likely need to reach out more frequently than you think because it takes a while for people to move from awareness of a program to acceptance of it.
Here are three factors to consider when you design your next employee communications campaign:
The road to program acceptance is a process. Just because employees read and understand the content, doesn’t mean they’ll immediately take action. Studies on persuasion and attitude change (such as the Yale Theory of Attitude Change) tell us that people move from being unaware of a message to awareness, comprehension, conviction and then finally to taking action.
Don’t assume they got the message. Think about it—have you ever missed an important email or Slack notification? It happens to your employees too. They are bombarded by messages, and sometimes the first (or second, or third) messages are missed. Plan for a series of varied messages that will reach them when they are most likely to respond.
Watch your tone with repeated messages. Nobody likes to be nagged. Avoid phrases that have a scolding tone to them, such as, “As we told you before” or “Failure to take action will result in . . .” It’s always a good idea to ask a colleague to review your reminder notices prior to sending, because your exasperation might show without you realizing it.
Although it may seem tiresome to you, repetition is a good thing when it comes to communicating with your employees. Use the power of frequent and effective messages to help drive adoption of your most important employee programs.