Bridging the Gap Between Creative Content and Human Resources

At some of the biggest and brightest companies in the world, creativity is not only celebrated, but practiced and prized in every department. Creativity encourages employee engagement, leading to better retention. Plus, it’s a winning strategy for overall success: highly creative companies also enjoy more financial success

Companies known for their creativity certainly don’t hide it, even when it comes to their Human Resources department.

How can you tell?

For starters, the HR Department often isn’t even dubbed “HR.” Google calls it People Operations – “POPS” for short. Other companies have moved away from the term “resources” and instead refer to “talent.” And folks working in HR might also have a more approachable title– like Chief Happiness Officer, Director of Employee Engagement, VP of People, or even Vibe Manager. 

Clearly the HR Department of the past is evolving.

No longer the dreaded Principal’s Office of corporate yesteryears, HR now functions as a buzzing hub where talent and culture merge to make the workplace better for everyone.

As part of this shift, we’re seeing a related evolution in corporate content. It’s becoming less formal, more relatable, and exponentially more creative. 

As with any change, there are plenty of questions along the way. Here are a few that we hear about bringing creativity into HR! 

I don’t get it. This is the HR department. Nobody’s expecting us to be creative. Why should we start?

Human Resources Departments are literally the first stop for any jobseeker – and the last stop for any employee on the way out the door. Tens of thousands of companies are clamoring for quality candidates in a climate where dream jobs are just a click away.

It is absolutely crucial to keep pace with the innovation, personalization, and creative solutions that a younger generation of job hunters expect. Also, in a culture that increasingly looks to storytelling and narrative structure as an approachable and reliable source of information, its key that HR has a hand in crafting and curating the stories that people see first.

And by making an effort to invest in creative content for everyday HR practices like onboarding, training, and learning and development, the impact of storytelling is amplified even further. According to Gallup, 56% of “somewhat disengaged” and 73% of “actively disengaged” employees are already looking for their next job.

How best to engage your employees? Tell them a story! 

We’ve always been strictly focused on traditional HR practices, but we realize it’s time to add some creativity. What’s the best way to start getting creative? 

Take a page from your company’s marketing department, and come up with a strategy.

Especially if you are making the leap from straightforward, by-the-book HR to a more creative approach, it’s important to have a plan in place. Yoh has an excellent blog post on best practices for coming up with your strategy.

Essentially, determine who you want to reach, the preferred platform or medium to reach them on, set a defined schedule, and be sure to leave room for plenty of collaboration and communication as you get your creative content for HR underway. 

Maybe you don’t even feel ready to come up with a full-on strategy, and that’s okay.

Start with one aspect of the HR department – pick something where you already have some form of content creation going on. Employee training is a good one. So is recruitment.

Then experiment with infusing a little creativity into your existing content.

For example, switch up the downloadable PDF for a training seminar with an interactive video. Or look to some of these fantastic examples of how companies have leveraged Twitter for recruiting.

Start gradually, and be sure to measure your results. 

How can we be creative even when we’re communicating dry information or sensitive topics? 

Creativity is naturally associated with taking risks and being more comfortable with grey areas. On the other hand, the HR Department is naturally associated with ensuring black and white compliance to the company handbook and fostering an environment of safety and success. Luckily, the two can coexist- it’s just important to keep it balanced.

Creativity is simply a means of innovation, and doesn’t always need to imply lax or informal behavior. 

For example, certain topics or workplace processes may lend themselves well to a concise and clear infographic. Consider those topics were formerly communicated via a text-heavy poster that hung in the break room and never got read.

What if it were transformed into an infographic that was easily understood at a glance? It could be shared on the company Yammer, in a handout, or on a smaller refrigerator magnet. Then, not only was greater creativity achieved, but better communication (and hopefully employee adoption) was the result. 

The Learning and Development areas of HR have historically been the domain of lengthy webinars, presentations, and workbooks.

These areas are ripe for transformation as well. Dense information or even sensitive topics can be better retained via interactive video, gamification, or even virtual reality experiences.

Again, the content doesn’t necessarily need to change, but by being more engaging and interactive in your approach, you’ll benefit from higher employee engagement, and increased information retention. Consider combining a variety of materials driven by the same content to appeal to the diversity of learners within your organization as well. Target visual learners with videos and VR; the same scripts, with a few slight modifications, could be used for a podcast or a blogpost that will broaden your reach. 

What is the most important thing to remember when crafting creative content for HR? 

Let’s return to the idea of storytelling as central to a company’s communication success.

It’s been proven that a theme of recurring customers is their investment in the company’s story. The same concept applies to people looking for a job. And once those people are hired, they’ll be looking for evidence that the stories they were told before and during the hiring process ring true.

As CMI puts it, you must ensure that your employees see your story as credible – after all, they’re the ones regularly telling it to potential customers or collaborators. 

So, at least at the beginning of a creative HR strategy, the most important thing to remember is that you should tell the same story to your employees that you want your clients or customers to hear. Be authentic, be innovative, and be direct in your communication. And once you have that foundational story, build a creative frame upon it.

Another related (and important) thing to remember: make sure you set goals for your creative content, and measure against those goals to see where you need to shift your strategy or modify your medium.

We’ve got our creative content strategy underway, and now our team is looking to us for even more creativity. Beyond content, are there other ways HR can contribute creatively? 

Happy you asked! From recruitment to employee benefits, to work/life balance, the impact that an HR department’s creativity can make on workplace culture is infinite.

Some companies make modifications to the physical space the employees are working in.

Others throw hiring parties instead of job fairs.

You could create an art wall, or come up with a team t-shirt.

Experiment with flexible work hours, or remote work, or adding videos to your job descriptions.

Create channels for employee communication like newsletters or social sites.

Once you begin developing a culture defined by creativity, you may find its momentum unstoppable.

By infusing your HR department with creativity, you’re leading by example – showing your team that a growth mindset is essential, giving them a framework within which they can explore their own creative abilities, and most importantly, fostering an environment where creativity is recognized, encouraged and expected. So…what are you waiting for? Start exploring your next step on the path to creative content today!