HR Now: What You Need to Know, What You Need to Do

HR Now PLs Header image


These monthly action-oriented HTML-designed emails provided employees and managers with one targeted email containing key dates and required actions for HR processes. All links directed employees to the website. The “people leader” version was typically sent the first Monday of the month and employees received theirs the second Monday of the month. The goal was to create an expectation that these were must-read emails with required “What You Need to Do” actions.


JNC Role: I designed the HTML email and worked closely with content owners and the myHR website administrator to ensure the accuracy of the content and website links. The turnaround time for this communication was five days from the receipt of content. I managed the communication plan from end-to-end from setting deadlines, receiving initial drafts of content (or as little as bullet points), tracking and making edits, gaining approvals, verifying the audience and determining if a query was needed to reach the intended audience, sending preview copies to the myHR Support Center (Hershey’s HR call center), and sending the final email.

The original design that Hershey received from one of the big HR consulting firms hired to design and write the first HR Now did not meet the technical requirements I needed, it did not look aesthetically as I and my colleagues working on the HR Now launch envisioned, and the original draft was too long and needlessly wordy.

Advice to managers and “leaders:” If you are working on a project, and you want to make sure your project is a technical success, make sure you hook up your technical experts – the people actually on the front lines doing the work – with the folks tapped/hired to solve your problem. Hook them up early in the process – so no one’s time is wasted.

Risk-Taking Time

Even though two of my colleagues and I were on the low end of the HR Now launch team hierarchy, and we were committed to a closely approaching launch date,  we took a risk and offered to the senior HR members on the team that I would design and submit my own HR Now HTML email template and the three of us would rewrite the draft to match the new template. To pull this off, I needed to teach myself HTML design and coding, how to use the only available web-design software program, and get an acceptable design done with the rewritten content…in about three days. Phew! We did it (I called those my “third-shift nights” when I’d come home and then work until 0100 or 0200), resulting in approval for the template used below.

Audience: The people leader version was sent to all managers globally. The employee version, as you guessed it, was sent to all employees globally. The email were targeted further based on the content. For example, if the content in the people leaders email was about the performance cycle, the email would only go to managers of salaried employees.

The communications below are representative of those used since the HR Nows launched in April 2012 until March 2014.

HR Now EEs 2014-03 thumbnail

HR Now PLs 2014-02-27 thumbnail
The February 27, 2014, HR Now for people leaders was a special edition specifically timed to launch 2013 year-end performance and compensation conversations. For this reason, the format was slightly changed to suit the specific purpose of the email.

HR Now PLs 2013-11 Screen Shot
This featured an action button “Add Reminders to Your Calendar” that eliminated the need for an extra email as done in past years prior to the HR Now HTML emails. The Add Year-End Performance and Compensation Reminders to Your Calendar document is what the manager saw when he or she clicked the button. The original version was designed and sent in HMTL, but was not viewing correctly in WordPress.

HR Now OE Launch 2013-10-30 US thumbnail
This special edition HR Now for U.S. and Puerto Rico employees launched 2014 open enrollment and was formatted to match the complementary communications I designed for the open enrollment campaign.

HR Now OE Launch 2013-10-30 CAN thumbnail
This special edition HR Now for Canada employees launched 2014 open enrollment and was formatted to match the complementary communications I designed for the open enrollment campaign. Employees could choose to read these communications in English or French.

HR Now PLs 2013-10 thumbnail

HR Now EEs 2013-10 thumbnail


While Hershey did not possess the technology to track usage and click-through rates, the highly favorable feedback received from HR business partners, managers, and employees in the U.S. and Canada indicated that these communications were meeting their objective of providing a handy checklist of need-to-do HR tasks and increasing on-time completion of these tasks.

Outside the U.S. and Canada, some employees felt that these communications were not intended for them since they weren’t translated into the in-country language, such as Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. I continued to raise this as an issue needing to be addressed as a growing global company, yet there was no budget for translation. A team was looking at this problem (for several years) without resolution. My communications counterparts in Mexico, who worked autonomously to Corporate Communications, attempted to rectify this by translating the email when they received it, and reissuing it through their own Hershey Mexico communications branded email.

More Info

Psssst: If you look closely at the header graphic in the people leaders version, you’ll see me in the middle of the photo (in sunglasses holding my shovel). This photo was taken during a community-service event as part of Hershey’s 2012 global HR conference. My group laid mulch along the Capital Area Greenbelt beside The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. My best friend, Lisa (in the header graphic wearing the orange baseball hat), and I struck up a conversation with the older gentleman who was overseeing our work on behalf of the Greenbelt. He knew a lot about the Greenbelt — you could tell it was special to him, and his enthusiasm was contagious. When it was time to go, Lisa and I thanked him, and he called us back over. He had a softcover booklet (maybe about 32 pages) about the history of the Greenbelt. He asked me if I’d like one. “Absolutely!” I thanked him again, and headed back to our bus to start reading it. On the way over to the bus, I realized the author of the booklet, Norman L. Lacasse, was the gentleman who gave it to me. I rushed back over, pen-in-hand, and asked him to autograph it for me. I’m not sure who was more delighted — me or him.

I appreciate your comments and feedback about any of these communications. Let me know what you like or don’t like or if you have any questions about the communication strategy, the program, or vendors used. Just ask me! Also, from one peer to another, if you see a typo, please let me know. Thanks!

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