Employees are busy. Every day, workers tackle projects, attend meetings, work with customers, problem solve, and, of course, receive, read, and send out e-mails. According to the Radicati Group, the average employee sends and receives over 200 e-mails a day.
There are studies that show employees spend two to six hours a day sending and receiving e-mails each day. Given the influx of e-mails in employee inboxes, it’s not a surprise that employees might overlook important company updates sent by e-mail.
It’s easy for businesses to communicate company updates, weather alerts, building closings and local construction updates via e-mail. However, given the number of e-mails employees field on a daily basis, it’s possible that some may misplace, delete, or not see a message containing crucial company information. In the case of emergency information or important market related e-mails, missed messages can cause the spread of misinformation and rumors. Employees might not check their e-mail outside of work hours, or certain messages might not reach multiple departments. There’s also the matter of remote employees, who might be out of reach of the information. If all employees don’t receive necessary information, there can be major consequences for the business in question, from lost profits to disengaged workers.
In order to keep employees engaged, informed, and safe, businesses should invest in technology for communication. Employers need to consider employees whether they’re in the office, in the field, or traveling, and this means thinking outside the box of e-mail. Technology can help prevent these gaps in communication, especially when it comes to safety and wellness. By leveraging technology, businesses can keep employees informed when it matters most – during an emergency or impending event. Here are some of the ways that businesses can strengthen employee communication with technology.
1. A Clear Signal
Employers should first figure out what type of message they want to get out and how it will resonate with employees. If the message is an emergency update, such as a cyberattack or active assailant, it will require different procedure than a message about a staffing issue or power outage. This is where establishing a clear signal comes in.
A few companies are still relying on phone trees, intercom, or public address systems to contact employees, which are less reliable. Even worse, fewer employers are engaged with these networks. Instead, many are more likely to turn to email, instant messaging, or a social collaboration network to communicate. In general, mass notification systems, intercom or public address systems, company mobile apps and instant message, or social/collaboration apps had greater success at grabbing employee’s attention. However, mass notification systems and company mobile apps are most effective for contacting employees in a fast, reliable manner.
While e-mail can reach 95% of employees, it might only engage 66% of their attention. One example of an instant communication that will more effectively engage your business community is a push notification or alert. Sending out a high-value push notification is an effective way to get employees to engage with a message, but be aware of alert fatigue, which occurs when communication is too frequent.
Before sending out an alert, be sure to follow these guidelines. This will help prevent alert fatigue as well.
- Establish policies about how frequently they send out communications
- Make the language straightforward
- Include current information
- Make directions easy to follow and understand
- Figure out who will get the messages
- Have up-to-date employee contact information
2. A Safe Workplace
This year, the #MeToo movement brought the issue of workplace violence and harassment to the forefront of the national conversation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that between 25-85% of women in the workforce will experience sexual harassment in the United States. These alarming stories and statistics demonstrate the need to revisit and bolster workplace safety efforts.
Promoting a safe work environment has many benefits for a business. In addition to the most important goal, promoting a healthy, productive workplace, these efforts will also benefit the company financially. Employers should also consider other forms of workplace violence - including verbal or written threats, physical or verbal harassment, physical assaults and even death. High-risk workers include delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel and those who work alone or in small groups.
It’s possible that your workplace already has workplace safety procedures, but are these resources being communicated to employees? Half of all respondents in Rave’s Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey weren’t aware of their company’s emergency plans for workplace violence and active shooter incidents. This is another scenario where communicating policy or resources via a mass notification system can prove valuable.
Technological advances can help businesses support their employees and encourage them to come forward about workplace violence, sexual harassment and other conflicts. Having an emergency call button on hand can improve emergency response in the workplace, giving workers the ability to reach security or law enforcement in case of a situation that may put their safety in danger.
Another valuable tool is anonymous two-way tip texting. Employees are more likely to report suspicious or dangerous behavior if there’s more privacy. Confidential tip texting allows employees to directly communicate with their employer’s security staff or relevant personnel. The two-way messaging feature helps them report any suspicious activity, along with text and images, discreetly through their smartphones. It gives employees an opportunity to report an incident without fear of retaliation and puts safety into their own hands.
3. Put Key Information in a Central Location
In the mobile phone age, employees likely expect information to be immediately and readily available. Businesses can help their employees stay organized and connected through a call directory, which would include important employer contact information. This directory would allow a business to include the phone numbers of human resources, travel, IT and facilities so their employees can reach out to these departments faster and report any issues and concerns. This can be especially valuable if employees are working remotely or are out of office. By putting all the information in an accessible location, it can speed up communication.
A content directory could feature company information in a central location. The directory could post company news, holiday schedules, travel agent contacts and human resources policies and procedures. This directory would also be compatible with a company app, putting all of the resources employees need in a convenient location. By offering the tools employees need in one place, they are more likely to check the app and communication will be improved overall.
To learn more about how technology is helping businesses strengthen their employee communication strategies, download the whitepaper.