Does Your Emergency Plan Include A Two-Way Communication System?

Does Your Emergency Plan Include A Two-Way Communication System

Millennials Want Two-Way Communication

OpenMarket released interesting statistics it discovered when surveying 500 Millennials ages 18-34 years old. 72 percent of Millennials text 10 or more times a day and 83 percent of them open text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. 60 percent of Millennials prefer two-way text engagement with companies because it’s convenient, fast, and easy to use.

Texting is the number one preferred channel for notifications from businesses, email is a close second, and voice is a distant third. In fact, Vonage reported a 22 percent drop in sent and received voicemails over the past four years. It seems fewer people are bothering to listen to voicemails, perhaps because it’s one-directional and takes too much time and effort. My, how times have changed.

While the data was intended for B2C companies looking to improve customer engagement, it does provide interesting insight into the preferences and habits of Millennials. Why talk about Millennials? Because Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation and more than one-third of American workers are Millennials.

If you’re a company looking to reach your employees, chances are, they’d prefer you’d send a text or email rather than leaving a voicemail they’ll never get around to hearing. This is valuable information to consider when planning employee communications. It’s also why companies should consider a two-way communication system in the case of an emergency. During a critical event, the objective is to communicate with employees quickly using real-time information. If you want to improve your odds of reaching them, your communication strategy must include multiple channels they are more apt to use, like texting, app push, social media, and email.

How Do You Communicate?

How does your company communicate during an emergency, such as a weather-related incident, IT outage, power outage, natural disaster, or other critical event? Is it more of a one-way notification than a conversation? Does it invite and enable a two-way dialogue? Does it require multiple steps, such as logging into voicemail, to retrieve the message?

Many emergency plans are best at directing people safely out of a building or giving instructions on what to do in the event of an IT outage, but few include effective methods to disseminate and to accumulate information from employees. A two-way communication system recognizes that important details may come from both the top of the executive ladder all the way to the ground-level employees and the best way to send and receive information is to exploit the channels the employees are comfortable using. Do they have an easy and quick way to provide information and even upload photos chronicling an event in real time? Will your message be received in seconds, when seconds count?

Administrators, company leaders, and even first responders can only be effective when they have all the relevant information and much of this will come from first-hand accounts. Police always look to witnesses to provide them with pieces of the puzzle they need to solve a crime. Same goes for an emergency at work. The employees at the center of a critical event will be able to provide the most valuable information that can shape the emergency plan in real time. Does your plan give them a voice?

Do You Have the Right Technology?

In order for a two-way communication system to be effective, you must have the right technology in place. Modern emergency notification systems enable companies to send and receive information in real time through multiple channels. Of course, every company needs a practiced plan and process in place, but as we all know from any emergency, every situation is different and fluid. Things change in a blink of an eye and what was planned often needs to be amended. The most effective way to stay on top of the crisis is to have the most relevant information possible and that’s going to come from the people in the middle of the situation.

Two-way communication isn’t only about understanding what is happening on the ground. It can help companies discern how they can best help those who may have been impacted by the critical event. Perhaps the International Federation of Red Cross says it best: “Without listening we cannot hope to establish what support people need, and importantly what they do not need, or better ensure communities get the right help, in the right place, at the right time.”

Listening is just as important as telling. Sure, sending out notifications is an important part of any emergency plan, but listening to first-hand accounts from employees gives companies the ability to respond more effectively. It makes the entire emergency plan more precise, more flexible, and ultimately more successful. Give your employees  a modern platform to help authorities and each other in any critical event. Offer multiple ways to engage and work together to stay safe and productive. If your emergency plan can’t do that, it’s time for a new one.