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Critical Communication: 3 Ways to Ensure No Employee is Left Behind

Crisis Just Ahead Sign With A Bad Day

February 17, 2022 Posted by in Crisis Communications, Business Continuity

Especially after the pandemic, workstyles are more varied, employees digest and prefer information differently, and traditional channels of communication are overused and even ignored. Your messages now have a bigger potential to not get attention from today’s employees, especially in a crisis or critical situation. This post highlights three ways you can ensure critical communications are received, read, and acted on.

The Problem: Getting Attention

“Oh, I didn’t see that email.” 

We’ve all been there – an important communication you’ve sent has gone unread. Based on recent research, 40% of employees confess ignoring HR emails. With many employees more mobile, they often miss other types of notifications as well. Generally people aren’t motivated to change the preferences or habits around communication, which results in a lot of missed messages. 

In some cases this might just be frustrating, but in the event of an emergency it can be life-changing. 

Communication Channel Statistics:

  • Email: 60% don’t read your emails, 30% don’t check off hours –  40% ignore HR specific emails
  • Company app: Notifications or programs are closed so alerts are not sent, app not downloaded or multiple apps to download
  • Intranet: Not an ideal not a place for urgent or critical information, and only 13% of employees use it daily. 31% say they’ve never logged-in
  • SMS/Text: Overused, often ignored or not used at all

Yet 74% of employees feel they are missing out on important HR communication. In an emergency, this could be dire. 

Challenges Around Internal Communication

In order to solve the read rate problem, it’s critical to understand the challenges around it. 

It can be hard to ensure every employee gets critical messages in a timely manner, but it’s important that everyone hear the right message at the right time, no matter their location or role. 

This is compounded by the fact that employees consume communication differently and may or may not have access to various communication channels (email, text, etc.) if they work in the field or away from a device. 

When you do reach them, some employees can feel confused with the similar but different messaging via multiple channels (email, text, Teams) – especially in an emergency.  But remember, the goal is a clear message that is read and acted upon! Reiterating that will help employees appreciate the strategy behind the communication. 

And lastly, managing multiple channels can be complex if it isn’t set up right. Ideally you have one place to do it all, saving valuable time and ensuring nothing is missed. 

Luckily, there are proven methods to encourage recipients to not only open and read, but to also interact with your communications. 

The Solution: Critical Communication: 3 Ways to Ensure No Employee is Left Behind

#1 Use a strategic, multi-channel communication approach

Which Channels?
While it can seem there are too many options to choose from, thinking carefully about your organization and messages will help narrow down what channels will work best. You can think of channels and message types as tools in a toolbox – which ones are right for the job? 

First, consider if you are currently matching the right channels for your audience and the type of communication. These might include traditional and digital channels such as: 

  • Direct mail
  • Posters
  • Flyers 
  • Digital Signage
  • Text
  • Email
  • Voice calls
  • Microsoft Teams

Next, deciding who needs what kind of message will determine which channel is the best fit for the message. 

Past and present examples of communication channels: 

  • Weather/Critical Events
    • Past: Phone calls, emails and managers
    • Current: Notification sent via Text, Chat, Teams with acknowledgments
  • Policy Changes
    • Past: Emails, bulletin Board posting, managers, meetings
    • Current: Digital Handbook link distributed via Text, Email, Chat, Teams with acknowledgement
  • Open Enrollment
    • Past: Postcards, emails, meetings, managers, flyers, Bulletin Board postings, posters
    • Current: Postcards, Digital flyers and resources sent via Text, Email, Chat, Teams, meetings, postings
  • Company Wide Announcements
    • Past: Relied on emails and managers
    • Current: Video message sent via Text, Email, & Teams
  • Promotion Announcements
    • Past: Bulletin board posting, emails and managers
    • Current: Flyer sent via Text, Email, Teams, bulletin boards

Which people and messages?
Think of employee communication as an integrated project plan. Who is just as important as what, and making sure the right people get the right message greatly improves read rates. 

Putting recipients into groups is called segmentation. Research shows that segmentation can yield a 4%-12% better response rate to your message, even with employees. Messages designed for a location, department, manager or group of employees get noticed faster and more often. 

Sometimes a segment of a message can be beneficial as well. Carefully determine what needs to be communicated to which groups of people – often not every detail is necessary. Also, frequency matters; some communication needs to be repeated, while some are only a one-time event. 

Consider using a system with channels that have the ability to easily track open rates and even the ability to send back an acknowledgement of the message. This helps to ease message fatigue and further segment and personalize resends and responses.

Consider other less traditional channels
Consider using Microsoft Teams for HR messages – and if your employees are already using it, even consider sending critical/emergency messages through Teams. Because this platform can be easily configured for segmentation based on existing recipient data, set-up and security will already be in place. Teams can also be designed to disrupt to get attention more than some traditional channels, as well as providing consistent messaging that is archived. 

Benefits of using Microsoft Teams to communicate:

  • Employees that already use Teams are more likely to see your messages without any change in their behavior or preferences. 
  • If the Teams app is downloaded, alerts are already turned on. 
  • Employee location or device type do not limit receiving Teams notifications, so it’s very likely all notifications will be received and read. 

#2 Get creative with communication to promote engagement

Utilizing tools that encourage two-way communication engages your workforce. Finding ways to make it easy for employees to contact HR –  including Phone, Text, Email and Online Forms – gives employees a way to communicate back to you when you send out a message. This way you know not only that they saw the message, but you can answer or ask follow-up questions. 

Perhaps the easiest way to accomplish this is with a text chat feature. Research shows that employees are 50% more likely to open a text message. Also,  65% of survey respondents prefer to message and video chat coworkers through a single, centralized platform rather than toggling between e-mail and another platform.

You can use a text chat tool to quickly and easily communicate with employees about: 

  • COVID protocols
  • Welcome/Onboarding messaging 
  • Happy birthday and service anniversary messages
  • Absence follow-ups
  • Benefits questions and updates
  • Any time you want to “chat” with an employee, even just to say hello!  

Getting creative and being more dynamic accomplishes several things. First, your messages seem more tailored and unique, guaranteeing they get attention. Second, finding personal ways to communicate initially and after the original messages makes employees feel heard and valued, inviting them to give feedback and ask questions. 

#3 Leverage better technology to reach and engage employees – especially in critical situations

Finding a software solution to communicate during a crisis involves several stakeholder groups, each with different needs and motivations. During a crisis when seconds count, it is critical that messages are sent to the right groups so they can be read and acted upon immediately. 

Recipients Users/Senders IT Department
  • Need communication where they’re at
  • Want dynamic channels they can easily interact with
  • May not send mass notifications daily /often – ease of use is key
  • Want various channels available to accommodate all types of employees and messages
  • Prefer to integrate with existing systems
  • Simple set-up and interface so users do not need much assistance
  • Secure and reliable, especially in an emergency

As the number of communication channels has grown, it has become necessary to find an efficient way to manage them. Using one system to accomplish this ensures clearer communication, and the efficiency also saves time and money. 

Without a system you may: With a system you can:
  • Use just one channel to communicate, missing many employees
  • Have no interactivity or ability to track who’s opened, received, or acknowledged critical messages
  • Devalue messages by not using personalization and over-blasting one message and follow ups
  • Have multiple platforms for channels, resulting in a disparate and manual process with unreliable data
  • Not have a backup plan if internal systems go down
  • Send multi-channel alerts to specific groups in seconds 
  • Include a chat feature where you can see all communication in one place
  • Send polling/surveys via multiple channels, including follow-ups only when necessary
  • Manage all channels and messages in one portal, personalize with segmentation, aggregate data in one place
  • Rely on a secure system that resides as standalone if email/internal systems go down

In some ways, having a solid communication plan that includes a mass notification system is like insurance. You hope you don’t need it, but when you do it’s life saving. 

This information is taken from the webinar Critical Communication: 3 Ways to Ensure No Employee is Left Behind featuring Will Gott, HR Manager at Wood-Mizer. Click this link to watch the webinar replay. 

About Pocketstop

Pocketstop is a communication software solutions company who empowers companies to create personalized, automated messages designed to provide rapid ROI backed by the industry’s best support at a cost customers can afford. Our commitment to excellence propelled us to become the industry’s pioneer in innovative and effective technologies with a portfolio of customer-focused products designed to drive audience behavior, improve efficiency, provide insight and actionable data for decision making by improving their existing internal, employee, stakeholder or customer communication strategies. For more information, visit



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