Defined policies, situational awareness, and efficient employee communication are core to HR leadership’s ability to create a safe and productive working environment; however, it can be challenging to deliver on employee expectations of safety and workplace wellbeing when HR’s single communication channel is email. Consider the following questions when evaluating your employee communication and engagement strategy. Is it time to reevaluate your HR communications system?
Are you reaching all of your employees?
HR must be able to reach every employee – no matter their location. In addition to emergency notifications, routine communications and company updates should be sent across the organization so that everybody is on the same page.
By leveraging a mass communication and collaboration solution, users can reach all employees via multiple methods of communication including email, SMS (Short Message Service) text message, voice calls, desktop alerts, digital signage, and PA systems. The capability for multi-modal employee communications ensures staff receives notifications about shift-specific information, power outages, an IT failure, or anything that may disrupt regular workflows – wherever they are and when they may not have access to a computer or email.
How do employees access safety resources today?
The many resources offered by your company won’t matter if employees have a difficult time finding them. Regardless if they’re remote or in the office, employees will still need a central location where they can do everything from looking up policies, checking the holiday schedule, or seeking help with a workplace safety issue in a secure way. A communications platform that includes a mobile app can provide a crucial, 24/7/365, digital link between an organization and its employees by acting as a hub of communication, information and engagement.
In our 2021 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report, 33% of respondents said they were unaware or unsure of their employers’ Emergency Preparedness Plans for the most common types of workplace emergencies. More than a third of female respondents were unaware of workplace violence emergency plans, extremely concerning with that being the second leading cause of death for women in the workplace. Higher percentages reported that although Emergency Preparedness Plans existed for severe weather events, medical emergencies, and system outages/cyberattacks, the plans were rarely or never tested.
This doesn’t necessarily imply employers are failing to prioritize workplace safety. It’s more likely their efforts are focused on meeting compliance requirements for regulations requiring events such as the periodic testing of fire alarms and fire drill procedures. While drills and testing for such things is important, and required by law, there are other scenarios that equally impact employee safety, like an active assailant event, that get less attention because there aren’t legal mandates that require organizations to prepare for, and drill, those scenarios. Leveraging a collaboration tool that digitizes the HR crisis response binder, and automates tasks, makes it much easier for organizations to prepare for, drill, and efficiently respond to emergencies. Knowing what to do, and where to go, is essential to navigating through an emergency in the safest way possible. Employees and HR leaders need a place where emergency response information is stored centrally, and accessible from anywhere, to be best prepared for any scenario.
Does your current corporate communications solution help reduce workplace violence and sexual harassment?
There are various measures that can be implemented to prevent workplace violence cases. The first is for employers, and employees, to understand the OSHA definition of violence at work and implement policies that protect employees from the “threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. Should these events occur, the policies must be enforced, sanctions applied, and the incidents included in Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illness (SOII) reports.
In circumstances where employees are at risk from physical assault, employers should implement mechanisms that can quickly alert security personnel and emergency services to an act of violence. In addition, implementing a communication tool that allows employees to confidentially, or anonymously, report suspicions or concerns directly to HR when they observe another employee displaying aggressive behavior, or acting drastically different than normal, can reduce the occurrence of violent incidents by allowing employers to step in when early warning signs appear.
Do you have a workplace violence app?
A workplace violence app is a mobile app that can be used by employees to anonymously report incidents to designated corporate safety leaders. Two-way messaging allows employees to submit reports along with text and images. In addition to critical documents and safety resources, some workplace violence apps also have a virtual escort feature that provides additional security for employees on the clock who have to travel to different locations as part of their job.
Does your workforce understand new plans and procedures when in the workplace?
Not every company can operate entirely remotely, which is why clearly communicating workplace plans and procedures when entering and working in an office space is extremely important. Human resources must share in-office policies such as social distancing regulations, mask-wearing, regular sanitization of workstations, and more should they want to reopen, and remain open, successfully.
With a mass notification solution that has polling capabilities, users can send automated daily employee health checks, which prompt workers to respond on whether the are feeling sick or have been in contact with anybody who has tested positive for the coronavirus, for example.
An organization wants their workers to feel safe at work, which is why conducting health checks, sharing what is being done to maintain their safety as well as what employees need to do to ensure their colleagues safety is paramount.
Is it time to update your company communication software?
Clear and consistent communication with employees is essential for any business. Leaders should look for a comprehensive mass communication and collaboration solution that is easy-to-use, can reach everybody instantly, and has helpful features such as automated updates, contact list segmentation, multi-language options, SMS opt-in, 2-way communication and robust reporting capabilities.
It is a businesses’ responsibility to provide a working environment that’s safe and promotes employee wellbeing. As an HR leader, it is your responsibility to inform and protect your employees. Employee communications are central to any organization’s ability to follow through on that responsibility.