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HR Need Not Be Alone

Sunday, November 1, 2009
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HR doesn't have to do all of the talking.

"Enlist employees to be your communicators, your ambassadors," says Merrie Spaeth, founder of the Dallas-based consulting firm Spaeth Communications.

Spaeth says HR should ask employees to talk to others about the positive aspects of the company.

"Be very honest with them about what you want them to do," she says. "Tell them you need their help."

Spaeth recommends that HR set up training classes to provide workers with information about the company and how it might be discussed with others.

"Employees want to talk about the company; they want to defend it if it's being criticized," she says. "But they don't know how to do it, and they're afraid of saying the wrong thing. You have to give them skills training."

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Senior leaders should be among the first to champion and take part in such "ambassador training classes," says Spaeth. "The storytelling starts at the top and works its way down. You are building a culture where people want to talk about the company."

Employees are going to talk anyway, says Spaeth. The question for HR is, "Are you going to get in there and try to influence it?"

One important caveat, she adds: "When you say this is a great place to work, it has to be true."

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