Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more employees were demanding family-friendly policies at their workplaces—everything from paid parental leave to flexible scheduling. As organizations implement these policies, they are understandably focused on the details of the rollout itself. But the communication around the policies are equally important. Change can bring confusion and stress, and without a solid communication plan, new programs aimed at improving corporate culture can have the opposite effect.
Here are tips for communicating new family-friendly policies across your organization.
Nail the rollout
Getting the word out shouldn’t be a one-and-done proposition, nor should it be restricted to a single method. Depending on your company structure, new policies can be communicated by email, in person at large or small group settings, on the intranet and in written form—like memos or posters in the break room.
Using more than one method makes it more likely that employees will hear the news. A companywide email might be the first approach, ensuring that staffers receive accurate information at the same time. Then, consider offering an optional, companywide information session to allow leadership to further explain the policy and answer questions, says Romy Newman, president and co-founder of Fairygodboss, a career community for women. If the policy is a radical change, you might first roll it out to a subset of the company, and tweak the communications approach based on that experience for the companywide rollout.
Addressing feedback is important: Change can be stressful. “Resistance often comes when employees feel uncomfortable doing something different or don’t understand what the results will be,” Newman says. Clearly explain how the policy will affect employees, and offer training or coaching to help navigate the transition, if needed. “I love numbers, so using statistics to support the policies and programs is a great way to communicate the value to employees, and using employee-generated data is even better,” she says.
Keep the comms going strong
While family-friendly policies should be documented in an employee handbook, Newman recommends creating reference guides for each policy, easily accessible through an online portal or the company website. Reminders about these programs can be included in company newsletters, with links to the reference guides.
Highlight your organization’s policies in job listings and when onboarding new employees. “So many companies act like their family-friendly policies are a secret when in fact they’re a win-win for the employer and the employee,” Newman says. Include the programs in the company or benefits section of job descriptions and during new employee training sessions.
It’s also a good idea to share examples of employee success stories with these programs. And leadership modeling the policy is a great way to show, not tell. “If you roll out a flexible work policy, make sure leaders are practicing flexible schedules themselves,” Newman says.
By clearly communicating the new policies, adapting your approach as you roll them out and maintaining consistent messaging, you can ensure that both current and future employees reap all the benefits of company-wide programs.