By Claire West

A strategic approach to employee communication can only be
successfully built on a shared sense of purpose, with all
employees understanding what the organisation is 'here to do', according to a new research insight from the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The new
research: Harnessing the power of employee communication,
explores how to improve employee communication across the
organisation.

The research pulls together evidence and insights from CIPD's earlier research outputs and identifies communication as a way to help drive sustainable organisation performance, an area explored further in CIPD's Shaping the Future* on-going
research programme.

Leadership, particularly from senior managers, is crucial if a shared organisational purpose is to be embedded in the day-to- day working lives of employees. At a time when many more digital channels are available for communication, the research urges employers to make their communication personal and authentic. It also recommends HR works together with internal communications, PR and marketing to ensure all elements of communication efforts are joined-up.

Good practice case study examples form part of the research
and include: BT Operate, E.ON, Network Rail, Virgin Active,
Westfield and IHG. They reveal the real benefits for employee engagement and the potential impact on the HR strategy.

Accompanying this research is a practical tool, HR: Taking
employee communication seriously, which offers advice and
useful tips on how to improve or put into place a strategic
approach to employee communication. The tool includes
guidance, frameworks, diagnostics and further case studies to help practitioners identify why strategic communication is important to the HR strategy and a way to build sustainable change and employee engagement.

Rebecca Clake, CIPD adviser, says, "Our research demonstrates that an organisation's ability to effectively communicate with its employees is always important, but particularly so in difficult economic times. Leaders need to make sure that their sense of clarity for the future direction of the organisation is shared by their people. With this in mind it will beinteresting to see how public sector organisations approach communications during the coming months, as departments face the prospect of budget cuts and major organisational change.

"We hope our research and practical tool will offer support
to employee communication and engagement efforts across all
organisations."

Helen Rosethorn and Annette Frem of Bernard Hodes group,
authors of the report and tool for CIPD commented, "There is nothing new in the importance of communicating and engaging with people - but in these continuing tough times employees need to have clear line of sight to their organisation's purpose and trust the 'deal' they have with their employer".