5 Tactics for Communicating Change to Employees

Hewlett-Packard, which announced the layoffs of approximately 27,000 workers on Wednesday, May 23, is a once-proud tech giant in turmoil. With four CEOs in a decade, three chairmen and a revolving door of directors, HP is struggling to become leaner and more efficient under CEO Meg Whitman.

With these significant layoffs, HP will have as much of a responsibility—or more—to engage its remaining employees as it does the public and shareholders. No doubt there are many HP workers who are saying to themselves, "Why now?" and "What's next?" That's why it's important to keep employees informed in times of transition, says Scott E. Rupp, senior manager of public relations for Vitera Healthcare Solutions. "They'll need information to make decisions about their and their family's future," he says.

Here are five tips from Rupp on how to effectively manage major transitions with employees.

  1. Provide regular, weekly e-mail blasts from leadership describing the changing events.

  2. Let employees know when major decisions are expected to be made; for example, communicate when benefit and personnel information will be released.

  3. Encourage dialogue between managers and their teams. If needed, have leadership step in and directly communicate with employees through town hall-style meetings and discussions.

  4. Create a channel for two-way, open communication. For example, create a virtual suggestion box or a forum for discussion between employees and leadership. Posts can remain anonymous for employees.

  5. If there is no information available or something hasn't been decided yet, let employees know that, but don't keep them guessing. Employees who have to wonder about their futures are not engaged in their jobs, and productivity and loyalty will be affected.

Scott E. Rupp's 5 Tactics for Communicating Change was adapted from PR News' Employee Communications Guidebook, Vol. 3. To order this and other guidebooks, go to www.prnewsonline.com/store/.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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