How to Get Workers to Listen to Employee Communications
Getting employees to pay attention to critical internal messages can be a challenge for any organization. In this post, we’ll provide ways to ensure your most important employee communications are received and heard.
These days, it’s virtually impossible for employees to read everything their company sends them.
Most of us are bogged down with too many emails, voicemails we rarely hear, notifications from chat tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack, and well-meaning company newsletters that hardly get a look. With so much competing for our attention and too little time to pay attention to it all, we’re left to assume the critical information we need to know will get to us somehow.
Faced with overwhelmed employees already struggling to keep pace, what can a company do to improve employee communication open rates and retention?
Here are a few ideas to ensure your critical messages break through the noise.
5 Strategies for Improving Employee Communications During Critical Events
1. Only communicate what really needs communicating
Choose your words wisely. If you want to get your employees’ attention, you have to be selective about what you send. If you’re mass emailing employees about every little update, chances are your emails are going straight from the inbox to the recycle bin.
Instead, decide how frequently you need to communicate and set expectations with employees about what information will be shared regularly. New product launches? Sure thing. Accounts won? Likely so. A reminder that St. Patrick’s Day is coming and to wear green? Please don’t.
Of course, some communications aren’t planned for—such as emergencies or other critical events. You can still establish a protocol for these by assessing your risks per location and devising a communication plan for the most probable scenarios.
2. Segment your audience to personalize your message
No one likes to get irrelevant emails, notifications, or messages vying for our attention. Not only are they a waste of time, but they also call into question the credibility and motives of the sender. To avoid spamming your employees, you need an employee communications tool that enables you to segment your workforce so you can direct messages to only the people who need to know.
In the examples above, you may want to reconsider sending a product launch message to HR. Will they care? Will that knowledge help them be more effective? Is there another communications vehicle, such as a town hall or team meeting, where the information could be shared instead? Likewise, sales and marketing teams likely aren’t interested in all of the things HR, finance, and operations most care about on a daily basis, such as the selection of a new ERP or HRIS.
In both scenarios, the ideal outcome is to avoid forcing employees to scan through unnecessary emails and notifications to see if anything was meant for them. With modest additional effort, you can significantly reduce the volume of non-critical communication within the organization by only sending each department, division, or team what is most relevant to them.
In the case of an emergency or critical event, you can also leverage the segmentation capability to make sure only the people who might be impacted will receive the emergency notifications. Sure, the rest of the company may want to know what’s happening, but as far as relaying and receiving critical information, you want to focus on the people in harm’s way.
2. Choose a flexible employee communications solution
Not all mass communications solutions are the same, so do your homework. There’s more to employee communications than just being able to blast an email or voicemail. Here are a few critical aspects of modern, flexible communications solutions worth considering.
Support for Anywhere, Anytime Communications
From email platforms to mass SMS tools, there are countless solutions for pushing information to a specific audience. However, with emergency communications, you need the ability to not just send a message but ensure it is delivered to the right people, as quickly as possible. Given the unpredictable nature of emergencies, it’s also vital that employees be able to respond to messages to let you know their status and request help if needed.
Here are some of the key features you should look for when evaluating options:
- Two-way communication – find a solution that offers a dialogue. You need the information coming from those on the front lines as much as they need to hear from corporate.
- Multiple channels – not everyone prefers email and we all know what a pain voicemail can be. Find a solution that enables multi-channel communication – text, email, voice, app push notifications, social media posts, and custom-channel functionality.
- Communication templates – not every situation is predictable, but it’s wise to assess your current risks and make plans on how you would respond. That plan starts with message templates. Having these templates saves you precious time and bandwidth which you can allocate to more pressing needs.
- Real-time communications – not every message is critical, but when push comes to shove, you want a solution that can instantly send and receive notifications and information.
Simplified Management and Powerful Integrations
Communication solutions are only useful if they can be relied on to get critical information to people when an emergency requires it. For that reason, you need a solution that integrates directly with your source of truth for employee contact information, such as Active Directory or your HRIS. You should also prioritize solutions that allow for multiple user groups so that emergency communication can be targeted to specific employees based on location, risk profile, or other attributes. Key features to look for include:
- Data syncing – integrating your mass communication solution with existing systems, such as HR directories, is a must. These integrations will automate processes, such as populating employee contact fields. These integrations can save time in reaching every employee as well as aid in audience segmentation. This will allow you to grow into a mass communication solution, and never out of one.
- Dynamic groups – Given the wide range of potentially critical events, you might need to organize and communicate with your employees by department, project team, management level, and other attributes to create dynamic groups. For example, you might send a message to only the employees who are scheduled to be on duty, presently in the Atlanta office, at manager level or higher.
- Reporting – what good is a solution if you can’t measure its effectiveness? Find one with built-in analytics to confirm open rates, channel preferences, and target audience experience.
- Multiple administrator permissions – for most organizations, one admin simply won’t cut it. You need a solution that allows for multiple administrators. These extra permissions not only provide your organization with added flexibility, but they also allow leaders to communicate critical information to their specific teams—adding another critical element of message segmentation.
- Employee preference settings – allowing your employees to pick and choose which channels they want to receive communications on is essential to company-wide adoption of your mass communication system.
Real-Time Threat Monitoring and Intelligence
During an emergency, there is no greater asset than having access to reliable, timely, and accurate information about threats. When selecting an emergency communication solution, ensure you have a plan for threat monitoring and providing stakeholders with up-to-date information and updates throughout. Specific capabilities to look for include:
- Threat intelligence – knowing what threats are in the vicinity of your people and business locations is half the battle. AlertMedia pulls threat data from trusted sources around the world and can automatically notify your organization when your people or assets are at risk.
- Event pages – whether it’s an emergency or a non-critical event, ongoing communications with employees is often necessary. Event pages provide a single place to find everything related to a specific situation, with current and archived updates, documents, videos and photos, and resolutions
3. Make noise about your emergency communication investment
Once you’ve decided to move forward with a solution, don’t be shy about making a big deal about your mass communication system. Let employees know things are changing and the old way of communicating with employees is finished. Let them know you’ve invested in a new system that will streamline communications, ensure everyone gets the messages they need when they need it, provides easy two-way communication, and will come across through the channels they most use and prefer.
Get them excited about the new addition. Believe me, when you tell them they can get valuable information without having to log into voicemail or read through painfully long emails, they’ll be jumping for joy. While change may present a few challenges, a modern mass communication system will make everyone’s jobs easier.
4. Practice what you preach
One way to make sure your employees receive your messages is to use the solution exclusively. You’ve presented it with fanfare, so no reason to ease into it. Stop using the old format and start using the new solution for all types of employee communications across the organization so employees can see it in action.
If they think they can get the same information elsewhere, they are more apt to ignore your messages coming from the new system or simply be confused. If you choose a modern solution, you will have the ability to message your employees across multiple channels. Acclimate employees in finding critical information in the new solution so it becomes a habit. Once you commit to using a new communication system, use it every chance you can—of course, only with information that needs to be sent.
5. Get feedback to identify what’s working and what’s not
One of the surest ways to boost employee satisfaction is to offer them a voice. Once the new system has been used a few times for different types of messaging (such as emergency notifications, operational information, and logistic details), send out a quick survey from your new employee communications system asking recipients to rate their experiences. Go beyond asking them to rank the system on a point scale; instead, ask them to write in their feedback. You’ll get much better insight into the success of the rollout by reading their comments.
Here are a few questions you could ask:
- For the emergency notification, did you receive the message in time to prepare?
- For operational information, did the system enable you to plan better and save time?
- For logistical details, did the system help with scheduling?
- Do you feel the message(s) you received were relevant to your job function?
- How would you compare the new system with the old?
The right system will be flexible and scalable to handle whatever situation and corporate ecosystem you may have. The key is to find one that will allow you to reach the right people at the right time across the right channels with the right messaging.