Notification System Tools and Critical Communication

February 13, 2018

Andrea LeBron

Workplace notification system tools might not be enough for everyday critical messages.

Delivering important messages to all employees in a workplace has many challenges, including making sure that your audience engages in communications immediately and takes any necessary next steps. Employees are already extremely distracted at work with the constant bombardment of emails, chat windows and in-person interruptions, complicating the successful receipt of important messages. In fact, according to professor Gloria Mark from the University of California, Irvine, “there’s typically only three minutes of consistent focus before an employee gets interrupted.” So how do you cut through the noise to deliver an urgent message such as an internet outage or something potentially dangerous, such as a workplace violence incident? It’s important to understand what the noise is in the first place.

Common Communication Roadblocks with Company-Wide Notifications

According to the Business News Daily, at least four roadblocks are inhibiting workplace leaders from effectively communicating with their employees:

1. Too many emails: The daily overflow of emails likely means that an important message will go unnoticed.

2. Timeliness of Messages: Getting important messages delivered and seen by employees before the gossip machine starts can prevent misconstrued information from circulating your organization.

3. Divided Communication Efforts: For larger companies, internal communication within departments could affect the willingness of these teams to collaborate on certain issues such as contributing to company-wide discussions.

4. Lone Employee Communication Neglect: Off-site workers lack the benefit of personal communication and important messages can fail to get delivered on time or could be missed entirely.

Each of these roadblocks affects how successful important messages are at reaching employees. For example, a routine email about an unexpected office closure might be buried in a field worker’s inbox, failing to warn them not to make their way into the office for an on-site meeting. An employee that’s away from their desk for a long period of time won’t be able to pick up the phone and continue a call-tree chain for an emergency such as police activity. Having the right notification tools makes a difference in effectively delivering messages in the workplace.

The Different Types of Notification System Tools

Businesses today use several channels to communicate company-wide messages to their employees. Here’s a breakdown of how successful six of the most common types of corporate notification tools are at delivering messages to employees.

Notification system tool comparison

Phone/Call Trees

Delivering a company-wide message through a call tree system is simple and cost-effective. However, the successful delivery of a message depends on the continuous chain of the call tree system. If a key caller in the call tree system isn’t available to call the next person in the chain, the message will fail to reach its desired audience quickly. The call tree system also requires constant updating to consider changes in staff and phone numbers.

In-Person/Intercom or PA System

In-person communication either directly to a group or through an intercom or PA system is the most ideal for critical messages as everyone can receive the same message at once and take necessary immediate next steps. The drawback is not reaching the growing number of remote or off-site employees.


Sending an email is probably the simplest method to deliver a message and provides the added benefit of being able to attach documents to further support the message. Distribution lists can also be easily updated. Where email falls short is the overwhelming amount of emails employees receive on a daily basis, contributing to a lagging open rate. Important messages can fall through the cracks and might get missed by remote staff such as field workers who don’t often check email.

Instant Messaging/Social or Collaboration Network

The switch to instant messaging tools such as Skype or HipChat and collaboration network tools such as Yammer and Jira is slowly making its way through workplaces everywhere. Some businesses claim that collaboration has increased dramatically because of instant communication, but a few issues remain. Some drawbacks with these tools are the cost and technical requirements needed to install and take advantage of certain product features. Another major drawback is the lack of universal adoption, which would hinder the successful delivery of an important company-wide message.

Company Mobile Apps

Custom company mobile apps are an easy way to get employees to opt-in to a notification system. It also makes it easier for business leaders to not only send important messages but also be able to track engagement rates. The downside to mobile apps is the cost and effort needed for development and full adoption by employees on their private mobile devices.

Mass Notification Systems/Mass Texting

Mass notification systems provide the full benefit of combining all of the communication methods above to deliver important messages and have the added value of providing a two-way communication feature. Depending on what a business requires for communication, mass notification systems can be quite cost-effective. Getting employees to opt-in to receive multi-channel messages, including SMS texts, might be challenging. However, as some businesses learned when they were forced to close down operations during the 2017 hurricane season, being able to check in with employees through a text message proved extremely valuable when most other communication channels were unavailable.

The Changing Corporate Notification Landscape

Breaking through the communication clutter to successfully engage with employees takes a multi-faceted approach and cannot depend on just one form of communication. The landscape today is that “Employers and employees can get in touch via phone calls, text messages, chat services and social networks nowadays. And yet, across the board, most companies still use email as their primary method of communication.” By understanding your company’s current communication roadblocks and assessing where your current notification tools fall short, you can get a better sense of planning for the successful delivery of important company-wide messages.

Find out what employees really think about notification system tools used at work by downloading our latest whitepaper.

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