Employee Communications ~ 7 min

Who is responsible for employee communication?

Krusha Sahjwani, Director, Asia, Sociabble
Krusha Sahjwani Director, Asia

The questions used to be – is internal communication important? How important is internal communication? Fortunately, this isn’t a debate anymore. Most companies are taking steps to improve internal communication. However, one key challenge persists. Who must be taking these steps? Who is responsible for internal communication?

We asked the question to Google.

And it chose one clear winner – Human Resources.

This is what Google had to say – ‘HR is one of the best choices for owning internal communications as it works with every employee and department in an organization. HR collaborates with workers during recruitment and onboarding, and is in touch with employees throughout their employment.’

So, is internal communications part of HR?

We asked ChatGPT.

Its answer was more layered. And also much lengthier to paste here. But this was the gist of the matter: Employee communication is typically a shared responsibility within an organization, involving various individuals and departments. While the specific structure and roles may vary from one organization to another, here are some of the key stakeholders and their responsibilities in employee communication: Human Resources, Internal Communication teams, senior leadership, IT, employees themselves, legal and marketing and PR teams.

We surveyed our clients and prospects at Sociabble, and the answer varied widely among companies, validating our initial premise that there is indeed a lack of clarity on who is responsible for employee communication. The popular choices though, were: Marketing and Communication and Senior leadership. So, is internal communications part of marketing?

This is where we stand. We have to agree with ChatGPT (don’t we all nowadays? :))

Internal communication is not a one department responsibility. If the question is who is involved in internal communication? An effective internal communication strategy typically does include shared responsibility. At the very least, we need to have HR, Marketing, Communication, IT and of course senior leadership to all be sitting in the car as we take this journey to effective internal communications. While the ideal trip has several passengers, someone has to be on the driver’s seat or else we will just be sitting in the car and talking but not moving.

And isn’t that what happens in our meeting rooms too? Several teams discussing the need to improve internal communications but one year later, nothing has changed.

I like to think of it as parenting. We all know it takes a village to raise a child. Parents, grandparents, siblings, nanny/day care, schools etc. But usually, the parents are in the driver’s seat. They are the ones who make the payments. They draft the over-arching strategy on how the child should be raised. How would you manage a tantrum? What are we feeding the child? They may then delegate some of these responsibilities to other members and offer creative freedom where they deem fit. However, the big-picture strategy and budget, among other things, comes from the parent/s.

So how do we conduct the DNA test to decide who the parent is?

Here’s a few best practices we’ve seen work:

  • Senior Leadership must parent or at least assign the parent: Employee communication is at the heart of the organization. It is a vital part of what we call company culture today. It is about setting the tone on how you communicate with the people who work with you, who eventually work with your clients, which is what helps meet your business goals.

    When we look at it that way, we can truly understand the value of internal communications or internal communication’s purpose. It goes far beyond just checking the box, and influences important elements such as internal communication, employee engagement, employee retention, employer branding and much more. This is why it is crucial that the big picture strategy is validated (if not initiated) by the CEO (or equivalent) himself/herself.

  • Set up an internal communication team: More often than not, employee communication falls in the lap of HR or Marketing (or is passed around between the two). And it stays there as one part of their to-do list, among many others that fight for attention (and budget). HR would pay more attention to subjects that cannot be ignored such as recruitment, trainings etc. Marketing will have a similar priority list with digital advertising, outdoor media and so much more taking up all the room. And poor employee communication is then left sitting there with no takers.

    All teams will see value in investing in internal communication but simply raise their hands on account of not having enough time or money. It’s like a fourth child trying to raise himself/herself. Mom and dad love you but there just isn’t enough time or energy left in the day or money left in the bank. Setting up an internal communications team ensures a primary guardian and thus proper care for sustainable growth.

  • Delegation and outsourcing: Once the above two steps are in order, it is then important to delegate efficiently. The senior leadership may have defined the destination, and the internal communications team could be driving, but there are other roles to be filled.

    Who is in charge of music? And who is mapping the routes? Who brings the snacks? Similarly, we need to understand which department is in charge of what element of the new internal communications strategy. Who is bringing the content? Who is responsible for choosing the technology that will be used? Apart from internal delegation, there must be strategic outsourcing too.

    For example, the passenger in the car responsible for mapping the routes could very well state they know the directions and don’t need a map. But especially for a long journey and while driving to a new destination the passenger hasn’t been to before, it is crucial to lean on Google maps or the likes of it. Similarly, everything cannot be done in-house. Bring in the SaaS platform that caters to your needs, rope in the agency that has experience to consult/execute on the matter. You may have covered the initial miles without their support, but once the road gets trickier, it is wise to give them a seat in the car.

At Sociabble, we have taken several steps to make room for multi-department management of internal communication. Two of the biggest ways we do this:

  • Governance on the platform: The platform is built to support this kind of internal governance. There is space for a ‘global admin’ of sorts. (aka the parent) and then there is sufficient room for local admins based on region/department/any other criteria the organization finds useful. This ensures the global admin is driving the car and is able to delegate seats to different departments and map out their permissions and scope so that people know exactly what they are responsible for within the internal communication strategy.

  • Consultancy: While technology is one side of the coin, the other side continues to be strong and involved consultancy. This is why our team is trained and experienced in multi-department governance plans so they can help clients execute the same with ease and even tackle potential complexities in advance.

So where do you begin? Let me leave you with this. Four questions you can ask yourself to get you to start thinking about who is primarily responsible (or should be responsible) for employee communications in your organization.

  • Where does the budget for employee communications come from?

  • Who gets veto in choosing the technical vendor/platform for our employee communications strategy?

  • Who is in charge of delegating (and reviewing progress) on various tasks involved in internal communications success?

  • Who is the main point of contact at the organization for the internal communication vendors?

If you’re still unsure about how to answer the above questions, or how to best navigate execution once you have the answers, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn directly or write to us at Sociabble. Our teams are overly enthusiastic about internal communication and HR communication and thus never shy away from a productive discovery session!

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