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HR and Marketing: Communicating with Employees on Their Terms

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 6.1.2017

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As the producer of many beloved fairytales and the creator of the ‘happiest place on Earth,’ Walt Disney made our lives a little more magical -- and still does with multi-channel marketing.

With the My Disney Experience mobile app, Disney visitors can plan trips in a way that works best for their family. To further the magic, Disney introduced MagicBand, a simple way to access parks, unlock hotel rooms, check in for FastPass+, and even make payments.

These personalized digital experiences have made Disney’s support and availability immediately accessible to any customer, anywhere, and at any time.

High-touch interactions aren’t limited to the marketing world anymore -- at least, they shouldn’t be.

With HR executives ranking “provide open communications” as their top priority for their employee communications strategy, according to our recent report, The Missing Piece in the HR Technology Landscape, they should be looking to provide employees with the same unique and interactive experience.

While we may not all have the imagination and spirit of Walt Disney, we can offer support to employees with the same marketing approach. Here’s how:

Offer a multi-channel employee communication strategy

Marketers invest in multiple forms of outreach because they have diverse groups of consumers. Not every age group, ethnicity, and personality type will appreciate the same channel of marketing.

The same goes for HR.

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Each department, manager, and employee will have varying messages. Even the tone and voice of their messages may be different depending on subcultures within your organization. As such, aligning one specific employee communication strategy with each department and subculture will prove challenging.

However, roadblocks in employee communication aren’t only negatively affecting your ability to get messages across. In fact, according to a recent Emergenetics report, the lack of communication in the workplace and how it impacts team performance was acknowledged by 59 percent of professionals.

Offer a multi-channel employee communication strategy to reach out and grab each person’s attention with meaningful, targeted content. This can include email, a communications app, text messaging, phone, and even print.

Get each department head in on your new plan to build the most effective strategy. Have them plan out what their team wants to know, how they want their information, and their own specific culture.

Not only will each department see results in their own communication, but executives will quickly see desired business outcomes become realities.

Provide high-touch and self-service options through your channels

Disney’s HR pros recognized the huge success their marketing teams were making with high-touch interactions and self-service options. So, they worked closely with their consumer marketing teams to see how they could incorporate similar tactics for their employees.

In order to do this, Disney’s HR team had to come up with a personalized experience that would engage and inform employees and managers through an app. In a Wharton and SAP whitepaper, Disney revealed they wanted the app to be mobile-friendly, globally available, simple, intuitive, and a one-stop shop for employees.

Michelle Bergman, VP of HR communications strategy at The Walt Disney Company said, “We came up with a campaign that has a cohesive look and feel, but can be customized per business unit to provide some flexibility and choice for all of our business segments.”

No matter what business you’re in, your employee communication strategy’s success relies on marketing terms like “high-touch” and “self-service.” For example, call center support, live chat, or even self-service options, such as internet FAQs, search options on apps, or chatbots.

Shift to mobile interactions

We live in a world where everyone likes their experiences to be immediate and catered to their preferences. That’s why marketing pros have moved from face-to-face to web-based to mobile interactions to engage customers.

Just like consumers, employees have multiple options for communication, and they all have their favorites. With employee communication and engagement being so similar to how marketing attracts and retains customers, it’s no surprise employee interactions are pointing to a mobile experience.

Jeanne Meister, a partner with Future Workplace, said in a January Forbes article, “HR leaders such as Diane Gherson at IBM, and Susan Peters at General Electric, are transforming HR to deliver an employee experience that is human centered, uses the latest digital technologies, and is personalized, compelling, and memorable.”

When choosing your own mobile app for employees, find one that’s true to your company’s culture and needs, and can be integrated to each person’s communication preferences.


No matter the size of your organization or the culture and personalities that make it up, employees want your communication efforts to be on their terms -- how, when, and where they want them.  While it’s important to find an employee communication strategy that matches your own needs, employees will be uninterested and disengaged if you don’t find flexible, common ground.

Topics: employee communication, HR communication, hr and marketing

Human Resources Today