internal communications methods, technology for employee communications

Even though employees have embraced texting and social media, corporate internal communications professionals continue to turn to email as their go-to employee communications tool.

A new survey by SlickText, which provides SMS marketing and mass text messaging solutions, found that:

  • Nearly half (47.7%) of respondents said receiving fewer emails at work would help to increase their job satisfaction.
  • 60.8% of respondents often or occasionally ignore emails at work. A third (34%) sometimes ignore emails from HR, and 5.7% always ignore HR emails.
  • 30% of employees never check their email after hours.
  • 9% said sending a text, not an email, is the best way to send timely alerts during emergencies.

A 2017 survey by Ragan Communications and RMG, a provider of visual enterprise solutions, revealed that 98% of corporate communicators favor email for internal communications. Only 13 percent of respondents use mobile applications or text/SMS messaging. While 41 percent of corporate communicators hope to launch new internal communication channels, obtaining funding and IT support pose challenges.

Even though many people often ignore emails, it’s still a valuable communication method. Completely abandoning email would be extremely challenging for most organizations. Instead, it makes sense to combine emails with other communication methods that may better engage more employees.

These recommendations from corporate communications experts offer a roadmap to improve employee communications.

Minimize email messages. Before you send an email to staff, make sure you’ve included all the necessary information so you only have to send one, instead of many additional emails to provide follow up information. Test the email on a few employees to determine if they have any misunderstanding or need for additional information.

Consider chat. Chat platforms include Slack as well as Ryver and Samepage. Chat reduces the number of short emails, and can offer the ability to search for past messages, synchronize communications across all devices, and communicate privately through invitation-only channels or direct messages. On the downside, it can be expensive to move an entire staff onto chat, and some team members may find the adjustment difficult.

Consider text messages. Text messages are well-suited for sending messages to a large number of employees. They’re ideal for after-hour emergencies, reminders and alerts — but not for sending documents or lengthy messages with extensive details.

Consider recorded phone messages. Messages to employees’ home or cell phones can deliver important, relatively short reminders such as insurance sign-up deadlines or important company meetings. With all the spam phone calls today, make sure you use a caller ID that identifies your organization and hone your recorded message. Be careful not to overuse phone notices.

Consider video. Downloadable or live-streamed video can be an effective employee communications tool in many circumstances including communications from the CEO. Video can convey humanity and warmth in employee communications.

Make sure your internal communications are accessible on any company-sanctioned device. Many workers are digital natives who work seamlessly between multiple devices and channels, notes Jenna Soule, corporate communications manager at RBA.

Reach remote and desk-less workers. Employees today may work at home, the airport or the office. Your internal communications will need to be accessible in any and all of these locations, Soule stresses. Rank and file workers in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and retail don’t have desks where they can read corporate communications messages. To reach those workers consider regular meetings, text messages, posters and digital signage, a fancy term for TV screens placed in public areas of the workplace.

Determine employee preferences. Don’t rely on just one form of communication for after-hours contact. Ask employees how they prefer to be contacted when they’re off the clock and let them choose what’s best for them.

“You don’t want to wait for disaster to strike before you discover that your emergency communication strategy isn’t as smooth as it could be,” says Matt Baglia, co-founder and CEO of SlickText. “Whether it’s a weather event, active shooter scenario or burst pipe, if you need to get the word out immediately to your staff, you’ll probably also need to use a form of communication that’ll reach them instantly.”

Measure internal communications. Measuring the effectiveness of employee communications has become essential due to the rise of social media, experts say. Employees can easily obtain corporate news from blogs, message boards and social media. Measurement of employee engagement and the effectiveness of internal communications can be more accurate on mobile apps than for other older communications methods. A media measurement service with an advanced communications dashboard can integrate internal communications with news and social media monitoring for a complete picture of the company’s PR, marketing and internal communications.

Bottom Line:  Email remains the most popular employee communications method. But email is not popular among employees. Employees feel overwhelmed by email messages, and many often ignore company email messages. Companies can better reach employees by integrating other methods into their internal communications.

Other reading: How Zimbabwe’s 263Chat Distributes News on WhatsApp

This article was first published on July 6, 2017, and updated on July 30, 2019.