Jos van Erp Deputy Director View profile

Recently, DECP published a story on its website about the master course on the ‘Effective Employers Organisation’ that is currently being conducted in French. One of the modules is about communication. What can an employers’ organisation do to increase its visibility? Which messages should be communicated? Through which media and to whom should they be addressed? These questions, and many more, where discussed during the module that was conducted Tuesday 19 October.

The course management of the ICTILO had invited Mr. Tom Hadley to share his expertise and ideas in this broad field. Mr. Hadley has been working at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and was in charge of campaigns for one of the UK's leading business organisations for many years. Not only his expertise was decisive for this invitation, but also his didactic skills guaranteed a lively meeting in which the participants were constantly encouraged to participate actively.

The module was basically divided into three big chunks; Communication and visibility (1), communication and lobbying (2) and communication to promote services (3). Mr. Hadley had prepared challenging questions which the participants could answer through the chat box. This allowed the programme manager of the course, Mrs Jeanne Schmitt, to quickly scan the most relevant answers which were the discussed.

It goes without saying that their was a lot to comment on the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of communication in general. And in particular the ‘who should we tell it’ question was raised several times. There is definitely no single right answer to all these questions. Nevertheless, lessons have been learned from many previous experiences. These have led to several helpful guidelines for employers’ organisations like;

  • take the initiative and be seen as such
  • create new engagement platforms
  • become a regular commentator in the media
  • make the most of face-to-face communication
  • revise the content and tone

And these are just some guidelines that might increase visibility. Of course they were discussed with the national realty in mind. One of the participants said that the employers organisation does not have a communication strategy. And resources are limited. Therefor it is unclear what choices should be made to make some steps. Others added that quit often no reliable statistical information is available about relevant issues so that the organisation cannot yet be seen as a professional discussion partner. Neither by the government nor by members. Apparently, communication is more then sending messages.

Other topics that where raised are the external challenges and obstacles. Some employers’ organisations lack the technical resources and skills to distribute messages regularly and consistently through various channels. Limitations are also experienced because the image of the private sector is not favourable to every target group or because governments allow other interests to prevail.

Could one simple comprehensive conclusion be drawn from this rich workshop? Definitely not. Communication is a complex process that requires strategic vision on which there is internal agreement, clear and consistent messages and the right choice of channels. But here we can refer to another previous publication on the DECP website about the collaboration with the ITCILO; Be good and tell other people about it!   Be good and tell other people about it