Dos and Don'ts in Personnel Communication

How to Succeed in Internal and External Communication in Hospitals.

Hannes Sommer
Hannes Sommer
Founder & Managing Director Sinceritas Executive Search

The importance of personnel communication cannot be overestimated in assisting a company to succeed. Internal communication with employees always reflects the external profile of a company and vice versa.

In hospitals, especially during times of increasing skilled labor shortages, there are some peculiarities. Because turnover, particularly in the nursing sector, is remarkably high, efforts should be made to retain nursing staff for as long as possible. This simultaneously secures future healthcare services. The German Medical Journal conducted a survey on this issue and draws a pessimistic conclusion: "German hospitals are losing their future."

The high turnover of nursing staff aged over 60 and shortly after their training, typically around 30 years old, is attributed in part to their heavy workload. Improved personnel communication is essential to retain these professionals.

As hospitals face staff shortages, time pressures, and potential medical emergencies, such as in the COVID-19 pandemic, effective crisis communication is also crucial.

The first question to consider is the methods of communication for addressing employees from different professional groups. Sincreritas has reported on the various channels through which potential personnel can be reached in job postings.

However, the diversity of platforms is also useful for internal communication. As will become apparent, these channels should be tailored individually to different professional groups (do). Bombarding all channels at once with too much information is not effective (don't).

Communication Channels

Nurses and physicians are less likely to be found at a computer during their daily work. Therefore, they read their emails less regularly than those in administrative roles, for example. However, the administrative workload for nursing and medical management leaders is significantly higher. Sending out mass emails with information about current events, issues, or even events may be less informative for employees in lower hierarchical positions. Younger professionals are increasingly addressed via mobile devices and social media.

Nonetheless, a digital newsletter can consolidate the most critical information. Printing this out and pinning it to a bulletin board can reinforce the flow of information. However, under time pressure, employees may not find the time to read the information. Furthermore, station bulletin boards are often cluttered with numerous notes and announcements, causing circulars to be overlooked. Currently, healthcare workers say they prefer to spend their free time with patients rather than reading about hospital internal matters.

Some specific app providers offer intriguing digital solutions for personnel communication, as seen in the example of the Malteser Hilfswerk: Personnel Communication via App.

Open Communication

What is interesting in this example is that information is not only conveyed linearly from top to bottom but also allows for staff suggestions and questions (do). These questions can be marked by colleagues to emphasize their importance. For the management level, this serves as a useful indicator of where priorities should be set.

With all these channels, it is essential not to inundate employees with information (don't). Nonetheless, employees want to be involved in company matters.

According to a survey by Sinceritas on benefits in hospitals, the majority of employees wish for an open corporate management. In communication, an open corporate culture means transparency in decision-making processes and corporate goals (do).

For the younger generation, communication on equal terms with superiors is also important. Therefore, communication training and coaching can be interesting for both management and newcomers. Coaching is considered essential by all professional groups, as mentioned in the survey above.

This also includes giving and receiving feedback as an employer (do).

For example, criticism and praise from employees can be addressed on Kununu. When employees take the time to evaluate their hospital, the HR department can accept feedback.

Not only the HR department but also managers should be trained to accept suggestions from employees. Conversely, there are various techniques for giving feedback and responding to criticism constructively.

Open communication can contribute to a positive atmosphere in a hospital, retain long-term employees, and attract prospective applicants.

Internal and external communication strengthen commitment

The same applies to other benefits, which are now considered standard and sometimes expandable (as mentioned above). It is common to prominently display benefits on a hospital's external career website.

However, employees may not always be aware of the available benefits. Therefore, it is helpful to communicate the offered advantages internally as well (do). This can support employees' "calculated commitment," meaning their commitment to stay with the organization because leaving would result in losing benefits or financial incentives.

Other benefits such as leisure activities significantly support the work environment and the sense of belonging in a hospital. Reputation and testimonials from other employees also greatly reinforce this attachment and should be communicated to employees (do).

As a hospital represents itself externally, it should also embody employer branding internally, including the company's values and goals. This applies to possible videos featuring testimonials from employees or a complete presentation of the hospital. (e.g. s Sinceritas Insights or 360 ° Tour at Charité)

Doctors also represent their hospital on TikTok.

The Helios youtube channel for example answers medical questions and explains specific medical techniques: Helios Kliniken - YouTube

The authenticity of the individuals shown and the credibility of the company's values should be maintained in visual presentations (do).

Furthermore, it is crucial to strengthen solidarity among employees during crises. Be it the tense employment situation, structural reforms due to health policies, or the challenges of a pandemic such as COVID-19: Crisis communication should reach everyone in the hospital (do), without causing panic or fear among employees (don't).

In the best case, this can lead to "normative commitment" among employees, where they feel obligated to remain loyal to the organization. Besides benefits, criticism, and potential recommendations, future developments of the hospital should be communicated. The challenge is to avoid overwhelming anyone with specialized information while still reaching healthcare professionals with the relevant jargon (don't).

Therefore, for the personnel management of a hospital, personalizing and intensifying communication with employees is essential. With the advancement of digitalization, a large number of employees can be reached, as shown in the above-mentioned app.

Digital Communication

According to Prof. Dr. Anja Lüthy, digitalization is also indispensable for recruiting. "Those who apply have digital expectations for the application process."

This applies to internal communication, as mentioned earlier, but should be viewed individually in terms of retention measures for employees. Older nursing staff, over 60, may prefer not to be engaged through a TikTok video and may want personal interaction.

For this purpose, a survey with data collection can be meaningful. Data security must be considered in digitalization and all digital processes. Private data and privacy rights must be safeguarded to build trust.

When a hospital transitions to digitalization, the step towards digital recruiting is not far and should be implemented urgently, according to Prof. Konrad Obermann. Ultimately, it means incorporating marketing into all forms of communication.


A coherent and transparent communication strategy that integrates internal and external communication is indispensable for strengthening a hospital's image and achieving long-term success.

The image presented by a hospital affects not only employee retention but also recruitment. This is because digital media is used, reaching candidates and employees through various channels. Conversely, employees should be addressed in the same way as in external communication in terms of employer branding. This ultimately supports employee retention and helps the company remain sustainable.

In conclusion, personnel communication is not just a matter of Human Resources (HR) but should also be integrated into a hospital's public relations.