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Communicative Compliance: Delivering Meaningful Answers to Employee Questions

Much of the information that employees receive remains subject to review by either HR or legal. When it doesn’t, the answers might come from managers, unfamiliar or unaware of any official policies. As a result, answers to common questions like “What’s the office tattoo policy?” end up skirting the issue and leaving employees frustrated and confused. Until recently, that one-way communication was an everyday burden for employees and one that could get cleared up through a few additional queries.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the concept of “everyday” went out the proverbial window. Employees needed info about serious matters – and fast. They couldn’t be bothered to navigate complex healthcare and benefits documents, or unpack the legalese associated with terms like “furlough.” What was considered a passable experience no longer meets employee expectations, spurring demand for a new approach to compliant communications – one that better understands what the workforce is asking.

Meeting employees where they are

Today’s world of work looks different almost every day, with increased numbers of employees going fully remote and many intending to stay that way. Most organizations weren’t set up for the type of rapid transition COVID-19 required, with digital transformation lingering lower on the corporate to-do list. Even so, when surveyed in early March, before the official pandemic declaration, nearly 60 percent of U.S. business owners felt prepared to respond. As the pivot started, that optimism began to fray – and quickly. 

Amid the initial disruption, employees continued to have questions, ranging from taking home office equipment to modifications to existing policies. The introduction of new legislation further complicated the immediate situation, leaving HR teams scrambling to find answers and navigate an evolving compliance landscape. All of a sudden, organizations had to connect with employees where they were, fielding requests and offering comprehensive insights in near real-time. Frustration grew palpable, but out of that friction comes the opportunity for sustainable change. 

Bridging the content divide

To make that change happen, organizations have to tackle a few housekeeping issues. The first is how communication takes place. With an influx of employees working from home, there’s less opportunity for in-person interactions. Compound that with a set number of available company representatives, and it becomes clear that organizations need a digital solution to augment these other options. Then, there is the matter of how the solution operates.

While chatbots have grown in popularity over the last few years, many come with restrictions because of programming protocol or a lack of viable integrations. Instead of being a guiding light for employees, basic bots put limits on an otherwise straightforward process: ask a question, get an answer. Employees want actionable advice in the form of a friendly conversation that provides resolution, as one might expect from a colleague or manager. Accomplishing this requires merging content from across the business with more intelligent technology, connecting the various apps and touchpoints to create a unified voice – and ultimately, experience.

As pandemic continues to demonstrate, providing access to trusted, compliant information is critical – and the faster, the better. It’s not just about what the workforce is asking, but also what the company isn’t answering, and legalese can’t cover for lack of insight into difficult questions. Nor is it still acceptable to send employees to an FAQ database or down an intranet rabbit hole and expect them to figure things out. Instead, organizations have to provide the meaning behind actions, showing thought and intent, especially when the call for distancing makes other means an impossibility. Bringing the necessary information together in one place, at one time, and staying connected regardless of where or when these conversations happen.