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The Ever-Evolving Employee Communication Facet

By Carmella D. Melton, MBA, Director, Head of Internal Communications & Employment Brand, BCBSNC

Carmella D. Melton, MBA, Director, Head of Internal Communications & Employment Brand, BCBSNC

In an organization, to maintain a balance of productivity and efficiency, employee communication is the key. A well-aware workforce makes smart choices, executes informed strategies, which in-turn flourishes the organization, directly. Although there are several go-to ‘mantras’ when it comes to improving workspace communication, establishing a well connected in-house communication system is the most preferred one by the enterprises these days. Technology can help in mass dissemination of information all at once, making the employee engagement fast, and effortless. In the wake of these strategies, we have a Carmella D. Melton, director and head of internal communications and employee brand at Blue Cross NC, sharing her insights on the changing communications scenario in healthcare services and other sectors.

1. In the light of your experience what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Employee Communications space?

The challenge: change. The saying goes that the only constant is change. And that’s especially true in today’s health care landscape and internal communications. We’ve found success in embedding change management best practices in our communication strategies. This is key to employees understanding the bigger picture – how change contributes to our overall strategy and direction we’re headed.

Now for a trend: marketing meets internal communications. To me, this means tapping into marketing principles that inform, engage and inspire our workforce. It’s also about taking one topic and amplifying it on all your channels to meet people where they are. We’re getting more sophisticated in employee segmentation and developing personas to help us better connect with our workforce based on their needs, communication preferences and what’s important to them.

2. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?

I’m leading the communications and engagement strategy to support my company through a proposed strategic affiliation with another organization. Creating effective strategies to connect with employees in times of change is a huge responsibility. Keeping them informed and excited about the future, understanding they may be scared about what’s to come. But also reminding them of the why. If the affiliation is approved, internal communications will play an instrumental role in supporting leaders and bringing together both workforces to build an optimized culture to deliver on our strategic goals.

3. What are some of the things that go on in your leadership communication strategy?

We help leaders find and use their authentic voice. We encourage leaders to be vulnerable where appropriate, sharing a personal side. We encourage risk-taking, like crowd-sourcing our new Vision statement on Yammer, which showed employees they have a voice and ultimately own the Vision. We have Lunch with Leader events, taking the cliché of open-door policy and making it a reality. We’ve come a long way as a company with open, transparent communications, and that comes from leadership, not just my team.

"We’re getting more sophisticated in employee segmentation and developing personas to help us better connect with our workforce based on their needs, communication preferences and what’s important to them"

 

 

4. Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and how they reflect on your leadership strategy?

I am a supportive, internally competitive individual. I’m also an avid traveler and lover of new experiences. Those characteristics show up in all aspects of my life, both personally and professionally.

Supportive: I am a firm believer that my role as a leader is to prepare my team members for their next opportunity, whether it’s expanded responsibilities, a new role outside the department or at another company. I’m not naïve to think that my team will be satisfied in their current roles for their entire careers. I’m here to support them for however long they’re on this ride with me, and then help them achieve whatever that new opportunity might be. I try to help them see the best in themselves and support them in reaching their full potential.

Internally competitive: I’m the oldest of four kids and growing up we didn’t have a lot. I think that’s what’s always driven me to want to be better, for myself and my family. I’m forward-thinking and challenge my team to do the same – to go beyond the status quo in their professional development and how we approach communications.

Avid Traveler: At least once a quarter I go somewhere to unplug. I just got back from a trip to Singapore, Thailand and Bali. I have an innate curiosity to learn and have new experiences. When we go outside of our comfort (or time) zones, our perspective changes. We tend to see things in a more positive light. But you don’t have to leave your city to get new perspectives and experiences. My team and I have monthly lunches where we try something new (everything from Waffle House, haha, to sushi). This builds camaraderie and shared experiences. I also encourage them to take time off to recharge.

5. How do you see the evolution of the Employee Communication arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

One of the transformations that excite me is internal communications integrating with employment branding and recruitment marketing. This is all about how you position yourself to attract and retain top talent throughout the various touchpoints of the employee journey. I think of it as internal going more external to align with the talent strategy. What that means is that your internal communications team will have to develop relationships with your social media, talent acquisition, and onboarding teams. Lines of responsibility will continue to get blurred, but in this instance it’s a good thing because of shared goals.

6. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

Broaden your skillset. It’s not just about crafting the perfect sentence, it’s about connecting to your audience. Gain experience and exposure in things like project management, marketing, graphic design, photography, social media. As communication teams are shrinking, it’s important to have a big tool belt.

Push yourself to learn different, creative ways to connect with your audience. People are wanting more and more, quicker and quicker – if we rely on “the way we’ve always done things,” we lose our effectiveness. And our clients may not necessarily trust that we can help them reach their goals.

We are responsible for inspiring, engaging, and activating the workforce. We must find that emotional connection to understand the why and paint the bigger picture. It’s a hugely important role.

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