Let’s admit it. We don’t always read everything corporate sends out. We are all bogged down with too many emails, voicemails we rarely hear, and well-meaning company newsletters that hardly get a look. No offense to the people who take the time to put them together, but we all have a lot to manage these days and kind of assume the critical stuff will get to us somehow.
What can a company do to improve employee communications open rates? Here are a few ideas to ensure you get your messages heard.
Only communicate what really needs communicating.
Choose your words wisely, a proverb surely once said. If you want to get your employees’ attention, you have to be selective on what you put out there. If you’re mass emailing every little thing on a frequent basis, chances are, your emails are ending up in the recycle bin.
Instead, decide how frequently you really need to communicate and what exactly you should communicate on a regular basis. New product launch? Sure thing. Accounts won? Likely so. Reminder that St. Patrick’s Day is coming and 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, however, by assessing your risks per location and devising a communication plan for the most probable scenarios.
Segment your audience to personalize.
No one likes to get a message that has nothing pertaining to them. It wastes time and chips away at your credibility. Be sure you have an employee communications tool that enables you to segment your population so you can message only the people who really need to get that message.
In the examples above, you may want to reconsider sending a product launch message to HR. Why would they care? Focus it on sales and marketing. Same goes for the account win. Likewise, sales and marketing likely aren’t interested in all of the things HR, finance, and operations most cares about on a daily basis. Don’t make them scan through a message to see if anything was meant for them. Do the work for them and only send each department, division, or team what is most relevant to them.
In the case of an emergency or critical event, you can 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.
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. What are you looking for?
- Segmenting – like I already said, you need to be able to group your population so you can customize the messaging per segment.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Introduce your new friend.
I suggest 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 really 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 corporate valuable insight 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, who doesn’t like it when their jobs are made easier?
Use it or lose it.
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 chose a good solution, you will have the ability to send them the messaging across multiple channels. Get them used to finding what they need 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 messaging that really needs to be sent.
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 and ask them to write in their feedback. You’ll get much better insight into the success of the rollout.
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.