Fix #2: Simplify Your HR Communications, Yet Be Technically Correct

This is Part 2 in our “Communicate with Purpose” series, with fixes for the five most common mistakes in HR communications. Up next: Fix #3: Use Fine-Tuned Channels to Reach Non-Desk Workers

The difference between corporate communications and HR communications is twofold: complexity and legality. If you’re too focused on covering all those bases, you definitely won’t be hitting a homerun with effective communications.

There’s a skill in writing HR communications that are technically correct yet easily understood. You may be leery of oversimplifying the information or leaving out a legal nuance that exposes the company to risk. It can be hard to find the balance between “anyone could understand this” and “we don’t want any appeals filed.”

Often, HR departments err on the side of caution (understandably so), writing in a language, that, while perfectly sensible in HR-speak, leaves the message lost in translation.

You can fix this mistake.

Use the WIIFM Principle for Effective Communication

Here’s what employees want to know with each communication you send: What’s in it for me? We call it the WIIFM principle, and there are three questions to be addressed:

  • What’s this about?
  • How does it impact me?
  • What do I need to do?

Check out this example of simplified language. We took two 45-page guides, consolidated them into one 20-page guide, and added design elements to help employees understand it all.

To clearly address those questions, use plain language, short sentences, and very little HR jargon. If needed, you can relieve your legality concerns by referring or linking to a more comprehensive document available online or in the local HR office.

Here’s an example of how you might simplify your message:

  • Complex: Next month, the Company will transition to a new provider for the Employee Assistance Program in order to save money. The new provider, ABC Inc., offers improved services for employees. For more information, call 1-800-123-1234.
  • Simplified (and more interesting): Next month, you’ll have access to more wellbeing services through our new EAP partner, ABC Inc. To learn more, see the attached flyer or call 1-800-123-1234.

When you’re crafting that simplified message, keep the WIIFM principle in mind by structuring your content in this order of importance:

  1. Need to know
  2. Nice to know
  3. Anything else

Don’t forget, if employees need to do something, have a clear call to action.

ICYMI: Fix #1: Tailor Your HR Communications to Hold Employee Attention

To learn more about how to reach non-desk employees, and how to fix the most common HR communications mistakes, download our ebook, Communicate with Purpose.

Download our ebook, Communicate with Purpose

Keep up with us on LinkedIn for more tips on HR communications.