Best Practices

Effective HR Communication Strategies for a Global Team

The workplace is no exception to the necessity of proper communication in order to function properly. With the trend of having a global employee base increasing in popularity, companies are forced to find new ways to optimize communication with their international offices.
Stefan M.
21 min
Table of Contents

The workplace is no exception to the necessity of proper communication in order to function properly. With the trend of having a global employee base increasing in popularity, companies are forced to find new ways to optimize communication with their international offices.

Today, we'll be going over everything you need to know in order to create the most effective HR communication strategy for your business. Let's dive in!

What is HR?

The Human Resources department ("HR" for short) is a sector of a business tasked with scouting out, recruiting, screening, and training employees.

Responsible for all internal communications within a company, the HR department ensures that the tools and methods of communication employed are conducive to a healthy and productive work environment.

Why is HR Communication Important?

Before we can endeavor into creating an effective HR communications strategy, we need to understand what makes HR communication so important.

Here are some of the things to consider when contemplating the importance of HR communication.

An Effective Communication Strategy Accelerates Company Growth

When it comes to achieving company goals and business objectives, having a comprehensive HR communication strategy goes a long way.

A company is nothing more than a group of people working towards a shared goal, and internal communication is a big part of the process. Having your employees connected by a solid communication strategy increases employee productivity and leads to organizational success.

Communication Builds Relationships and Trust

Making your employees feel like they can communicate with you regardless of their geographic location builds a foundation of trust and respect.

When you prioritize relationships with your employees, financial success will naturally follow. Always Encourage employees to reach out and voice their opinions on company matters. It will drive employee engagement and create a much more productive work environment.

Ineffective Communication Leads to Huge Losses

A 2022 study conducted by Grammarly found that companies lose $12,506 per employee per year due to miscommunication. Annually, that number amounts to $1.2 trillion for U.S. businesses.

Statistics such as these solidify the notion that having proper means of communication integrated into company culture is key to the success of any corporate enterprise. For an HR communications strategy to work on a global scale, special consideration must be given to applying this principle.

4 Types of HR Communication

To help you gain an even better understanding of workplace communication, let's analyze the 4 ways in which information flows within a company.

We can visualize information flow as a moving entity on a 2-dimensional plane. In this scenario, information can travel in 4 directions. They are:

  • Upward Communication
  • Downward Communication
  • Diagonal Communication
  • Horizontal Communication

Let's briefly go over each one in further detail.

Upward Communication

Upward communication can simply be described as the flow of information from the lower levels of a hierarchy to the upper levels.

In a corporate setting, this would usually refer to employees communicating with upper management in order to provide or receive feedback, make a complaint, give suggestions, or ask for particular instructions or permissions.

Utilizing this form of communication as a part of your HR strategy lets your employees know that they are in an inclusive environment where their input is valued and carefully considered.

Downward Communication

In contrast to upward communication, downward communication involves the flow of information from the top tiers of a company hierarchy down to the lower levels.

Just to provide an example, a project manager sending out e-mails with instructions and briefing material to the members of the team would be considered downward communication. Another one would be a sales team representative receiving a new training course from the HR department.

This form of communication is used to give feedback and form a policy of reciprocal communication and respect with your employees.

Diagonal Communication

Diagonal communication is done by employees of different levels in different chains of command. This means communication between team members with different ranks that are not in the same branch or sector of the company.

A simple example would be communication between a junior developer of a web design sector with the head of the marketing department.

Having this type of communication available to your employees makes the transfer of information much faster and minimizes downtime, resulting in an overall more productive workflow.

Horizontal Communication

Last, but not least, we have horizontal HR communications.

As you probably might have guessed, horizontal HR communications involve the exchange of information between employees of the same level, usually from different sectors.

In a work environment, it would be things like department-wide meetings and planning sessions between coworkers. An HR manager discoursing with an accounting manager would constitute this type of communication.

Developing an Effective HR Communication Strategy

Now that we've gone through the basics, let's go over the elements of a potent HR communications strategy, and how you can implement them in your company in order to improve internal communications.

Defining Your HR Communication Channels

In order to have good communication in the workplace and keep your employees informed, you must first define the channels through which you will exchange information

Luckily, there are plenty of digital communication channels that make employee communications quick and effective. Those are things like:

  • E-Mails
  • Internal Communication Platforms
  • Employee Collaboration Software

Additionally, you can use mediums such as a company intranet and company blogs and forums to facilitate communication in the workplace and improve employee productivity.

Employee Segmentation

Defining your employee segments can give you valuable insight into improving HR communication in your company. Integrating fractional HR services into this segmentation strategy can further refine communication practices, ensuring tailored approaches that respect cultural and linguistic diversity across global teams. This is especially true when working with a global team as you can group your employees based on parameters such as geographical area, time zone, and language.

Having this type of data stored in a central location is a great way to help your HR and communications teams improve HR communication globally by taking into account the factors that characterize each employee group.

Considering Language and Cultural Barriers

While working with a global team does have many merits, it comes with certain difficulties as well. It is more than likely that not all of your foreign employees will possess the level of English fluency required for communication in a work setting.

When creating a global communication strategy, it is helpful to have at least 2 methods of overcoming this issue. Some of the most popular options include using HR translation software, working with professional translators, and offering language courses to your employees.

Efficient Scheduling

Hosting regular meetings and conference calls with your global employee base is a great way to recap, reassess, and find ways to overcome obstacles. However, that can be a bit tricky when working with foreign employees.

Making sure to create a schedule that all employees can follow makes for a much more efficient communication strategy that minimizes downtime and improves productivity.

Determining the Costs of a Communication Strategy

When creating an effective communication strategy, always calculate the costs required for its realization. A well-defined budget plan helps you keep track of company expenses as well as gives you valuable insight into how you can further improve HR communication on a global level.

The costs to consider here are things like software subscription fees, costs of communication channel maintenance, and the salaries of staff tasked with operating internal communication technology

HR Communication and Employee Retention

According to a study conducted by Firstup, 33% of employees feel unrecognized and socially excluded in the workplace, making it one of the primary reasons for quitting their job. This issue is particularly augmented when dealing with a global team.

Improving communication with your foreign employees not only increases employee satisfaction but is also an integral part of workplace culture and should be considered a crucial element of company policy.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to frequently contemplate employee feedback and conduct employee satisfaction surveys. Make it easy for your foreign employees to communicate with you and express their needs and opinions.

Employee Engagement Relies on HR Communications

According to a study by Gallup on employee engagement, 70% of employee engagement is solely dependent on the manager.

Employee engagement is one of the most important factors contributing to a company's overall growth and business outcomes. Making sure that employees have a thorough understanding of their tasks should be a priority for the HR team.

If your company results are lacking, take the time to talk to your HR professionals about whether or not this principle is appropriately applied in your company's day-to-day business communications.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional do's and don'ts to help you optimize your HR strategy for a global team.

DO Be Cognizant of Time Zones

Having a global team always encompasses working with people in different time zones. Handling time differences in an appropriate manner means considering the working hours of each team member in relation to their respective time zone.

An effective way of maneuvering through this difficulty is having a central database of each employee in your global team and their working hours relative to your time zone. Making this information base available to your HR staff makes global communication much easier.

DO Include International Employees in Company Celebrations

Oftentimes, a company will celebrate a particular holiday that is not celebrated in the countries of their foreign employees. This can leave your foreign colleagues feeling left out.

In good faith, always make sure to send e-mails and other tokens of appreciation to all of your employees regardless of whether or not they celebrate the same holidays as you do.

DO Organize Events for Global Teams

While both written communication and video conferencing form the foundation of company communication, organizing events where your worldwide team can meet face-to-face is a great way to connect with employees and enrich company culture.

Granted, this does take a lot of planning and resources. If your company is ever in a position to host events that accommodate global teams, it is a great way to stimulate worker engagement and improve workplace communication.

DON'T Use Humor Carelessly

When communicating with colleagues native to a different culture, always think about how humor will be interpreted. A witty statement might be amusing between you and your friends just as much as it might be offensive to a foreigner.

This also includes the usage of things like gifs and memes in written business communication. While there is nothing wrong with building rapport through laughs and giggles, always prelude that with consideration of whom you are speaking with.

DON'T Use Slang or Jargon

Using slang and jargon in business communication can not only come across as unprofessional but can also create unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding. This is especially true when communicating with colleagues who speak your native language as their second or third.

Limiting your use of slang and jargon when talking to people outside your office is a good way to improve your HR communication strategy. You can even go as far as making it a part of company policy.

DON'T Stereotype Employees

In general, assuming stereotypes of your foreign colleagues is a big red flag, even if the stereotypes are positive. Avoid making assumptions about people you are cooperating with in a corporate setting, as it can only create discomfort.

A good rule of thumb is to ask rather than to assume. Asking about an employee's culture and tradition is a great way to build rapport and create familiarity with the employee.

The Future of Human Resources

With internal communications and employee engagement becoming such an integral part of a company's growth process, it's easy to see why so many companies are committing time and resources in order to improve HR communication.

New digital communication tools are being developed with each passing year. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we'll see new methods for creating effective HR communication strategies and increasing employee satisfaction rise to prominence.

For this very reason, it is extremely beneficial for any company to keep up with new HR trends. You never know when you might run into something perfectly suited for your HR and communication teams.

How Bureau Works Can Help Your HR Operations

A slow onboarding process, poor communication, and a lack of multilanguage HR communications strategy are a few things HR teams have to deal with all the time.

Luckily, Bureau Works is a bridge connecting employees with HR teams by providing effective translation services. Bureau Works will help you translate company news, key messages, and all of the company documents that will allow your HR team members to communicate effectively with new employees, no matter what country they're from.

Both written and verbal communication in the workplace will definitely lead to improved productivity and a better bottom line in the long run. If you want to know more about how Bureau Works can improve internal communications, connect employees, and empower HR departments go and download this white paper.

Closing Thoughts

It doesn't matter if you are a novice entrepreneur or a CEO of a major company, finding ways to improve your communication with the people you work with will always take you one step further towards your goals.

We hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of human resources, wishing you the best of luck in future business endeavors!

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