Human Resources



Communicating the magic

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In marketing, a “magic price point” helps attract more customers. Amor C. Villalon, regional VP of HR at Fujitsu Asia, asks why the same principle shouldn’t be applied when encouraging employees to communicate, engage and perform better.

In marketing, the concept of a magic price point is well known. Basically, it is the exact point where the product appears to be most appealing to buyers. Instead of S$20.00, pricing a product at S$19.95 will, most likely, attract more customers. Capturing customers’ attention and communicating with them is, fundamentally, the main notion behind effective product pricing.

Similarly, the key to every successful HR initiative or programme is communication; the need to determine what resonates with employees is essential.

It is important to determine what appropriate message should go out to appropriate employee groups, as not all that is announced by the president gets read by all employees, and not all announcements published even in the most popular internet sites get read by a wider audience. So, how can HR help improve this communication situation? How can HR get people to read email announcements, participate in focus group discussions, actively join team planning, keep the high potential employees excited and performing at their best?

And most importantly, how do we bring out the best amongst our available talent in the organisation and build a high performing one?

Building the right foundation and programmes would be the straight-forward answers, but an improved internal communication is the thing that will make it work best.

Through the years, I have observed one of the differentiating factors between a good HR function and a less effective one is the ability to articulate ideas and translate them into understandable languages, targeted at the different audiences in the organisation. Often, the HR function does a lot of things and still ends up unappreciated. Experience tells me it is not because HR practitioners are incapable – the function just fails to communicate.

How then, can HR help breathe life and excitement into everything they do?

Begin by creating awareness

Tell the whole company what is happening by email blasts, company intranet, employee town halls, bulletin boards and more – and use free social networking tools! HR can also leverage informal leaders and pass the news through them. Informal leaders are people who are not in leadership positions, but their opinions are believable and their credibility among peers is high. These are people who always look at changes positively while recognising challenges and positively influence people around them.

Find your informal leaders by sitting in the cafeteria or pantry and observing who others listen to or individuals whose voice prevails over others.

Deep dive into the details of what you have announced

One of the effective ways this can be done is via a focus group or round table discussion. These forums are meant to provide a way for employees to give feedback, express their thoughts and clarify what was announced or communicated to them.

Gain employees’ support

Describe how the announcement can benefit them and how they can contribute to making things better at work. Most of all, define the benefits for them, personally and professionally. Start with a few employees who can be advocates of the programme – the multiplier effect of this can be phenomenal.

Give people the chance to be involved

In the case of implementing something like an employee club to gain support, empower them by defining their role in driving a positive employee experience. HR can transition from support to involvement in a form of brainstorming or team discussion where everyone gets to share what is on their minds.

Great inventions were not developed overnight – inventors went through series of trials and errors, and because they were not discouraged, they became successful. We can make our people successful by giving them a role to be involved.

Develop a culture of accountability and commitment

The behavioral manifestations of accountability and commitment include stable and sustainable performance outcomes, consistent behavior regardless of the situation, personal leadership, sound values and practices at work and a lot more that contribute to company’s short and long-term success.

HR can take this a step further by helping business leaders create an environment that strengthens emotional commitment more than rational commitment, as this can be up to four times for effective.

Questions to ask in order to build emotional commitment: Is this an organisation where people feel involved? Do they feel part of a good team? Is the organisation serving the community? Are they growing in this company? Do the jobs provide stretch roles to maximise employees’ potential? Do people have a voice in the company?

In summary, an impactful communication plan does not start and end with one memo or email – it has to be followed up with activities that will reinforce what people have read.

So, are you ready to create the best HR communication “magic price point” and bring HR to a higher level of performance?

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