A year ago, the top news stories about Google were filled with overjoyed employees discussing the perks of remote work, hefty compensation, free unlimited food at a buffet, and even free laundry services.
However, after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced laying off 12,000 roles, Google employees shared different stories: perks cut, people leaving, and young blood looking away from FAANG giants, turning to web3 job opportunities. Google’s talent management strategy caused undeniable damage to Google’s public image.
In the era of social media platforms, it is hardly a surprise that information travels swiftly, capable of shaping or shattering careers and business reputations. 4.2 million people witnessed a TikToker being laid off from Google, shedding light on the company’s firing practices and deglamorizing Google’s image.
Sharing internal workplace experiences on external social media platforms can complicate things for HR and PR departments. Not only does it complicate matters, but it also blurs the lines of responsibilities and creates challenges in crisis management. As social media platforms are unlikely to disappear any time soon, the company’s HR and PR departments should find new ways to shape public opinion through their talent management.
How things used to be
In the most common understanding, a critical power of PR is to manage the relationship with its audience and stakeholders by creating and maintaining its positive public image. While from HR’s standpoint, public relations influences the recruitment part of HR responsibilities, focusing on talent attraction and sourcing.
Human resources focuses on internal stakeholders, namely employees, to identify top talents and enhance employee performance. Internal corporate communication, a part of HR responsibilities, contributes to the company’s internal image, a part of PR. What employees think, talk, and post about a company’s approach to hiring, working, and firing translates the internal image into the world, influencing the public image.
Globalization is reshaping markets and altering how people establish business relationships. Some say that the lines between public relations and human resources are blurring, prompting companies to evolve and adapt their PR and HR strategies to tackle a common goal – to succeed.
The convergence of HR and PR
Your company has a brand, and everyone who works for the company is contributing to the brand in some way. While PR can certainly market your company as a great workplace, it will be a no-go without HR having internal practices that make it happen. Here are a few ways this synergy can help your company succeed.
Employer branding and brand messaging
Potential employees start to form their opinions about the company way before they apply for a job. All PR-related activities, like appearing in the news, winning awards, being present on Linkedin, and offline conferences, could make or break employer branding. Nevertheless, employer branding is also influenced by HR, as every interaction with employees, from the initial interview to the last day of work, contributes to individuals’ overall opinion.
Some people prefer to work in industry-recognized companies that have a positive reputation among their employees. Some people emphasize workplace culture and values. Either way, HR and PR should work together to maintain a positive public image and promote the company’s values and mission.
Showing a united front is most important in a crisis. PR and HR should work together on communicating clear, cohesive messages to both internal and external stakeholders. HR should maintain an open line of communication with employees, addressing their concerns and taking care of their well-being.
Meanwhile, PR focuses on external communication to mitigate the impact on the company’s reputation and employee morale.
Healthy company culture
The combination of the Great Resignation and massive layoffs shook the corporate world. It is a universally acknowledged truth that company culture has some influence on employees’ happiness. Glassdoor study indicated that a deteriorating culture would cause 71% of employees to look for new opportunities elsewhere.
HR should keep the pulse on the company culture as it constantly evolves and changes. Step back and take a moment to understand what a company needs. Collaborate with PR to channel the company’s values and goals and improve transparency.
No one can provide more accurate, realistic, and engaging information about a company than its employees. Employee advocacy is one of the last organic outlets for companies to boost online exposure. Postbeyond reports that social media posts gain 561% more reach when an employee shares them than the company itself.
Starting an employee advocacy program by offering the opportunity to join it, determining goals and awards for employees that reach them. Let HR and PR decide what should be shared, educate employees on best practices (sharing, tagging, replying to comments), and explain the positive impact on their network and personal brand.
Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion professions are usually part of the HR team. They plan and execute internal diversity initiatives. PR team communicates commitment and helps bring awareness to these initiatives.
McKinsey report shows that nearly one in five female leaders have left a job in the past two years due to the company’s failing commitment to diversity and inclusion programs: 39 percent of workers decided against applying for or accepting a job because they perceived a company as non-inclusive.
HR and PR departments should ensure that diversity and inclusion programs meet the employees’ expectations and are adequately communicated to the external stakeholders.
Glassdoor Review allows candidates to peep into the company’s culture before any live interaction. They can learn more about their potential managers, colleagues, workplace conditions, and compensation packages from an outside source. Positive candidate experience increases the chances they would contribute to a favorable external reputation.
However, HR should collaborate with PR to create a strategy to influence and control public opinion. For example, what should be done if a candidate leaves a bad review? Who should reply to it, and what is the best way to mitigate the damages? Working together, HR and PR find the best way to tackle this.
Effective employee communication directly influences employee engagement. It goes far beyond serving as a way of delivering the company’s news or memos and should elevate employee experience by providing a sense of contributing to the company’s mission.
When employees have all the necessary information, tools, and resources to do their work successfully, they feel more connected, engaged, and happier and are less prompt to give negative feedback.
How to improve the HR–PR connection
In most cases, fate, or current affairs, brings HR and PR together. A company should consider a few things to ensure it gets the best from this synergy.
It is crucially essential for HR and PR to be on the same page about their goals to show a united front in times of need and forge consistent communication with internal and external stakeholders. Misalignment may damage trust and lead to confusion.
This synergy frequently requires that both parties share data. While some may find this harmless, sharing private data can raise data security concerns.
One of the best ways to learn more about each other’s responsibilities, challenges, and processes is cross-functional training. It ensures that both departments understand when they interact and how their expertise can be used.
In a digital era, the blurring lines between HR and PR mirror the changing business landscape. It is high time to recognize that public image and internal culture are connected and influence one another. HR and PR synergy can help companies enhance employee branding, ensure a healthy company culture, and provide a united narrative that resonates with both external and internal stakeholders. Creating a positive company image involves people from inside and out.