Employee engagement: Whose job is it anyway?

Sound an unlikely meeting of minds? Well, it shouldn’t.

Today’s PR team or external practitioner knows that their job is as much about delivering the right internal communications strategy, as it is about gaining zillions of column inches in media targeted at the outside world.

Why spend the marketing budget on telling those outside of the business how incredibly brilliant your brand and service is when staff feel disconnected, deliver poor PR messaging in their own social circles, and are always on the look for a chance to move to your competitor?

This is where the marriage of HR and PR performs a highly effective collaboration, where employee engagement is concerned.

Let’s see it from the eyes of the HR professional first.

Their job is broadly engaged in trying to recruit and retain great staff who feel valued and who perform well. Nothing makes it harder for a business to recruit first class professionals than for the company to be carrying a lousy reputation around its neck like a lead weight.

Further still, is the idea that the company may have no notable brand or reputation altogether.

Why does a talented driven career-seeker want to be part of an unknown business brand, or at least an unknown that has no intention of raising its game and becoming an industry competitor?

Of course, if you’re lucky enough to recruit good staff, our hard-working HR director wants to know that the individual will be retained for a reasonable time and not feel isolated from the company’s growth plans and wider messaging.

So talent management is hard enough without sound brand reputation…and that, of course, is aided by a PR professional.

Whether in-house or externally contracted, the public relations team want the business to have sound brand awareness in the wider world, but also to know that the communications strategy filters throughout the walls of the organisation. It benefits their efforts for staff to be on-message, to be generating story potential in the mere practice of their work, and to be highly motivated toward company goals.

PR measures like internal newsletters, in addition to the peer-competitiveness of seeing fellow staff in the media, therefore sit perfectly alongside the HR team’s efforts to create a truly holistic approach to employee engagement.

You can’t expect great internal or external PR to radiate from staff who feel unappreciated as a result of the current HR delivery. Likewise, you cannot ever believe you’ll recruit or retain the best industry talent if the communication channels within and the brand reputation outside is as poor as could be.

Gone are the days of departments in isolation and a notice board for a lousy communication channel. Get your PR and HR in sync. It’s undoubtedly the way forward.

Deborah Watson is an award-winning PR and marketing consultant who founded the communications agency Lexia Media. She advises businesses of all size and scale, helping overhaul strategies, implement new campaigns or managing daily media relations. 

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