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Effectively Communicating Corporate Change Initiatives: Where do you begin?

By guest blogger Darlene E. Arroyo, RN, BS, COHN-S

Senior management has just approved a corporate change initiative. Your leaders are excited about the change and ready to communicate to employees.

How do you ensure the information is effectively conveyed? Ask yourself:

Who is impacted by the change?
Identify your audiences. Think about salaried, union, part-time, and hourly employees; contractors and interns; as well as inactive groups like retirees or employees on a leave of absence. Then consider any need to segment your messaging to managers, leaders, or other specific groups.

What should each audience know, feel, and do?
As you draft your key messages, consider any differences in how the change impacts each audience, and tailor the key messages to each group. Ideally, hear what your employees have to say first to learn what the change means directly from those being impacted. A listening “road show” can be a series of focus groups, a brief “pulse” survey, or even informal conversations.

If union employees are affected, get input from the union leadership team to ensure the language aligns with Collective Bargaining Agreements.

If the change impacts employees outside the United States or who speak different languages, plan to get input from local representatives to confirm understanding and translation.

How much detail does each audience need?
Employees want to know what is changing and what the change means to them. Tell them as simply and clearly as possible. Use visuals (infographics, before-and-after diagrams, process flow charts, etc) whenever possible to reinforce the message.

Vague content can create confusion, causing your team to spend hours replying to e-mails or telephone calls. But you don’t want to overwhelm readers with too much detail.

The solution? Pair your base communication with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document, anticipating as many questions as possible. As the change rolls out, update the FAQs as new questions come in.

What’s the best way to reach each audience?
While email can seem to be an effective approach to reaching a large number of employees at one time, your communication could get lost in overloaded inboxes. There are lots of additional digital and print choices available; using a “surround sound” approach that includes a variety of vehicles can successfully reinforce the message.

Other channels to consider:

  • Intranet banners and articles
  • Social media posts
  • Manager or HR toolkits
  • Plasma screens or poster announcements
  • Postcards, print newsletters, or other home mailers
  • Interactive infographics
  • Digital guides
  • Short videos
  • Texting campaigns
  • App notifications
  • Webinars/lunch-n-learns

If the change involves financial or regulatory changes to retirement or 401K plans, or an update to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulation, be sure to include a home mailing component.

When should the communication go out?
Coordinate timing with your internal Communication department so you can be sure you won’t overload employees or compete with other important announcements.

Also, avoid sending communications about major changes at times when an employee may be distracted, such as directly before a holiday or during a corporate down-sizing or reorganization.

Communication Insight

Communicating corporate changes successfully means focusing on each audience’s needs.

Need help planning your change communication? Contact us.




  1. Excellent points on who is affected & avenues for communication or what could happen when adequate communication isn’t utilized. Rumors run rampant without proper communications (either too much or too little).

    1. Good point, Trish. Informing employees about change even if final decisions have not been made helps to reduce their stress and fear of the unknown. Thank you for your feedback.

  2. Dear O’Keefe Group. I work in Senior Management for Interior Metals Inc. in Brooklyn N.Y. We just had a major restructuring in our company and had very little information sent out to our employees.The information that was sent out was weeks after the restructuring.As a result thing were in chaos for all that time.I feel that the information in the article written by one of your writers Darlene Arroyo would have helped my company go through the implementation process more effectively. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you Gary Fomuke

  3. Gary, thank you for your reply. I am sorry to hear that your team had to endure the chaos you mentioned. Lack of communication can cause employee confusion and anxiety. Please feel free to share my blog with your management team to hopefully avoid this chaos in the future. Best of luck with the restructuring!

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