HR plays an important role in maximising the return on investment in employees. This involves recruitment, training and development, industrial relations, workforce management, record keeping and change management, amongst other functions.
Public relations also has a distinct role in employee communication while there is also some coming together of HR and PR functions on specific issues, such as industrial relations.
One of the key reasons for using PR in employee communication is to foster good management/employee relations. Knowing that one-way communication is of little or no value at all (ie management to employees) it is important to have mechanisms in place that allows the free and flowing transfer of information between all parties, particularly from the bottom up.
If you think that setting aside an hour each week where senior management and employees sit around a table eating company-bought sandwiches and talking about work issues, think again. This probably won't cut the mustard these days. Staff aren't going to raise an issue with the thought of being singled out as a troublemaker.
As employees are the people who usually have good ideas about how things can be run better, perhaps it is better to have off-site facilitated workshops on a team-by-team basis, without senior managers present. This is more likely to highlight problems in the workplace and provide suggestions on how they can be resolved.
In our arsenal of tools, PR practitioners can be instrumental in conducting attitude surveys, producing newsletters (electronic and hard copies), maintaining intranets/private websites, running employee competitions, producing videos (by the CEO giving a company update, for example), implementing staff recognition and reward programs, and using the web and social media to establish and maintain a sharing of information and two-way dialogue.
Also, if your organisation hasn't done a communication audit, plan for one to be done - both formal and informal. Management need to know what is working well, what isn't and what could work better.
Employee communication is just one of the many roles undertaken by the PR professional.