The company that makes its internal communications public

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What’s worse than an angry internal memo? An angry internal memo that gets leaked to the public. And PayPal president David Marcus knows exactly how that feels, after his irate email to employees at the company’s San Jose, California headquarters was leaked to much ado.

“…it’s been brought to my attention that when testing paying with mobile at Cafe 17 last week, some of you refused to install the PayPal app (!!?!?!!), and others didn’t even remember their PayPal password,” Marcus wrote, going on to say that employees were obligated to use the app at all times, unless they were physically unable to pay with a PayPal product. In fact, he was so displeased with employees that he asked those who didn’t use PayPal to “do yourself a favor, go find something that will connect with your heart and mind elsewhere.”

When the memo was leaked in February, eyebrows were raised across tech and leadership circles. Whether Marcus was right or wrong, could be debated for eons, but the important question it raises for HR leaders is with regard to internal communications. Should Marcus have reasonably expected his internal document to remain internal, in this social media age? Probably not, says Mynewsdesk head of internal communication Anna Rydne. She points to sites like Glassdoor, where employees share anonymous knowledge about their workplaces.

“People will share info regardless if it’s labeled internal or external communication,” she says. “In a changing world where everyone in their private life are used to share anything they find interesting on social media, we can’t expect different kinds of behaviors in professional life.”

Six months ago, Rydne revamped the company’s internal communications structure to make it public. Anybody can access all but a few company memos on their website.

“At Mynewsdesk, we don’t think we have anything to hide,” she says. “What we have done is that we consider openness as a normal condition and everything else as deviations. And if there’s anything that can’t be communicated externally (very few things are, but for example certain numbers since we’re a listed company), we’ll find other channels.”

Rydne also sees the move in relation to employer branding, since employees are able to share the material published when they’re truly enthusiastic about it. “I think this is achievable for most companies, and is really good when you aim to deliver a true image of what it’s like working there,” she says.

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