Buck Bond Group

Why should you care about employee communication design?

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“HR managers do need to communicate—on target—to make changes work. If you know how design principles can bring about change, then your message will have a much better effect.” Shane Morgenstern, National Communications Leader

Communication design seeks to attract, inspire, create desires and motivate the people to respond to messages, with a view to making a favorable impact to the bottom line. Simply put, design in communication is the process of taking information and translating it into a useful message that inspires some kind of change.

Getting employees engaged in the decisions they need to make is critical to how managers can put more productive processes in place, help people make more responsible choices, and drive more predictable outcomes. But the content of your message is often not enough to get that level of engagement, to create the deeper personal “meaning” that triggers acceptance and response. How you design and deliver the message can make a huge difference in how effective you are.

Four things good design can do for your communications

1. Helps them notice the message. This is the one most people are familiar with. Good design will make things look great. But there’s more to it than just packaging. Don’t stop just with aesthetics. Your design should help tell the right story to the right people. It should create meaningful experiences that can satisfy all the senses.

Why, you ask, should I have to think about people’s senses? Because sending out your message is not the same as communicating it, if no one pays any attention to it. You need to grab that attention, making your message sound and look compelling enough to get through the everyday noise and distraction we all face.

2. Helps them see what your message says. Good design can bring ideas to life. Designers are able to take concepts and ideas and turn them into something tangible and concrete. It might be by translating the culture behind a company’s internal brand to enhance retention and engagement or by simplifying the complex details of a retirement savings plan through an interactive financial modeler.

Most of the communication you do with employees is aimed at getting them to learn something – from a simple change in a meeting time, to a whole new approach to the business. Design enhances learning, improves clarity, and increases understanding – which leads to much better outcomes.

3. Helps them respond to the message. Good design gets under people’s skin and creates a connection between the message and their personal lives. Leaders and the employees they lead rarely see things from the same perspective. Seeing the situation from the employees’ point of view and designing to appeal to them will go a long way in engaging their support.

You can give people all the reasons you can muster for why such-and-such a change, practice, or new habit is a good thing. But unless you can stimulate their desire to act, you’re wasting your time. People are rarely persuaded by reasons alone. They need an emotional buy-in for the message to really register and resonate. It’s an audience-centered approach and it’s the cornerstone of great design.

4. Helps them see themselves changing. Applying the design process – the visual elements of the medium you’re using – to your message can help people “envision” possible futures.

For instance, most organizations seek substantial innovation in their products or services as a strategy for market success. And leaders use a variety of communication strategies to develop a strong culture that puts innovation at the top of every organizational “silo.” Design can be the bridge that connects all lines of businesses to the innovation process to build a shared vision and of possible futures.