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When Employee Handbooks talk back

The Employee Handbook. The tome to understanding your company’s policies, practices and rules. The ‘what-to-dos’, the ‘when-to-do-thems’ – you know how it is.

It’s passed enthusiastically onto your new employees – a glossy 150-page printed guide to help them navigate their way through their first few days, weeks and years in your company.

And it’s already out of date.
And it’s a nightmare to search for things.
And it can’t be accessed when you’re out the office.
And it ends up in a desk drawer, never to be seen again…

A phone call to HR is just easier, right?

 

We were recently asked by one of our clients to help their employees unlock the power of their own Employee Handbook.

Our approach was to think of their employees as ‘customers’ of the handbook, and in turn, how we could make accessing the knowledge inside as easy as possible for them.

Part one was to use an existing platform to host a searchable online web-based handbook that could be accessed via mobile, searched through and referenced by hyperlink, to make the specific content they required easier to discover and share.

The second part was to take this content to where the users are, rather than expect them to travel to where it is. Given the incredible rise in messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messager and iMessage, our solution, which we’re still building, was to create an Employee Handbook Chatbot and take this useful employee content and put it right under their noses.

 

“What’s a Chatbot?”

Check out my overview video.

 

With the Chatbot in place, the employee will be able to ask basic questions about the rules, polices and benefits of the organisation in a conversational manner, and get the information they need via the messaging apps they use every day. Even better, the Chatbot can ask further questions if it requires more information from the employee to answer the enquiry more accurately.

And nobody has to call HR.

Our prototype is already alive, and we’re enjoying interacting with them already!

 

 

But building such a friendly, personable handbook that ‘talks back’ brought up all sorts of interesting debates and considerations that aren’t typical for Internal Communications channels. We can usually depend on tone of voice to ensure our comms fit the culture of our work environment… but here we have something of a personality, that could essentially be asked *anything* about the business. And it talks back too – a much more active engagement than a poster, an Intranet article or a printed guide.

 

 

We’ve loved the new challenge this has brought us, and I’ve pulled together some of our insights and findings in the video below.

 

 

With Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence and smart digital workplaces appearing in our businesses, these considerations will become more and more important for Internal Communications professionals as we move forward.

What do you think? How can your existing tone of voice support conversational channels and automated personalities? How do you think these personalities should be shaped? What does the ‘perfect employee’ look like in automated form? Can that truly be ‘built’?

And of course, if you would like to talk to use about your own automated conversational internal comms and how this can support your business objectives, do get in touch! You can also follow my daily digital musings on Twitter.