Finding New Ways to Communicate During Change

Communicating to employees is table stakes when there’s a big organizational change. But with employees constantly connected to what’s happening, HR has to up its game in terms of what, when, and how often we communicate during change.

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Any HR leader knows that communicating to employees is table stakes when there’s a big change in the organization—a new executive or partnership, changes in strategy, and definitive moments of success. But today, with employees constantly connected to what’s happening in the world and within their peer networks, HR has to up its game in terms of what, when, and how often we communicate during change.

We’re at an interesting inflection point here at Workday—entering our next phase of company growth on our road to profitability. We’re hiring and expanding globally, and looking at how we innovate infrastructure and processes while preserving the unique culture that got us here.

Keeping a vibrant culture intact while growing requires new methods to increase transparency.

What’s clear is that we can’t rely solely on what has worked so far, such as our internal employee portal, online chat sessions with executives, and regular town halls. These are still incredibly important, but there has to be more, because I believe the first rule of communicating change is accepting that the methods that worked in the past may not be the most effective for the future.

Keeping a vibrant culture intact while you grow requires new methods to increase transparency across the business, and ensure that information and news gets out in a timely fashion. Adding to that, employees are seeking even stronger connections with the companies they work for, so we need to find ways to reach individuals in a more personalized and scalable way.

For instance, in addition to the many things we’re already doing, here are some focus areas for us and some things we’re testing and implementing for employee communications.

Alignment on Strategy

How do you make sure all arrows are pointed in the same direction, with new hires understanding your leading business priorities? (At Workday, nearly half of our employees have been with the company for less than two years.) We’re testing the use of video at all levels. For example, our product management team leaders recently created videos to communicate priorities and goals to their teams for the coming year.

Personal Connections to Management

How do you help each person in your growing workforce get to know executives, and give them opportunities to be heard? In addition to our bi-annual company meetings at Workday (which are filmed and posted in our employee portal for those who can’t attend) and town hall-style regional meetings, we’re planning additional opportunities for executives to have casual sit-downs with different groups of employees and discuss how we can keep improving our culture and company. Our video team also just filmed an interview with our CEO Aneel Bhusri, conducted with our newly appointed CFO Robynne Sisco, where they discussed how she uses our Workday Financial Management product and touched on our path to profitability as a company.

Consumable Content

Everyone is busy, and we’ve been looking for creative ways to communicate news to new hires and current employees about our accomplishments, culture, and what’s happening around Workday. We have a new video series called “In a Work Minute” that delivers important news and happenings in an entertaining format.

What are some of the things your organizations are trying out or implementing for employee communications? We know that we’re not alone in placing people as the number one priority, and we’d love to hear and learn from your stories.

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