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6 Tips for Using Text Messages to Communicate With Employees

The health of any enterprise depends on quality internal communication. Employees who are engaged and tuned in to the heartbeat of their organization tend to have higher morale and perform better at work. If you’re looking for a better way to connect, as 53% of professionals are, think about using text messaging to communicate with employees.

Written by

Henrik Jesman Sunde

May 29, 2022

Texting is an excellent addition to your communication strategy and can increase employee engagement. Below, we explain why and offer several common ways businesses are taking advantage of SMS for business.

Why Use Text Messaging at Work?

It’s more likely that managers have to pry employees off of their cell phones rather than coax them to spend more time scrolling through texts. But how many businesses can claim the same level of employee engagement with their institution’s intranet?

According to the Pew Research Center, 97 percent of smartphone owners use their devices for texting every week. With 46 percent of Americans using their cell phones for five to six hours every day, it’s too big of an opportunity to ignore. Most professionals agree—70 percent favor using text messages to communicate with employees.

Besides the ubiquity of the technology, what other reasons are there to communicate with employees where they spend most of their time—their cell phones?

It’s easy to start sending business communications via SMS because almost every cell phone can send and receive texts and most professionals are already comfortable with this communication style. On the other hand, traditional communications tools could have substantial learning curves and require lengthy training sessions. Employers may even encounter resistance to adoption from employees inundated with numerous tools and apps.

Texting also helps to keep track of and inform non-desk employees. With fewer employees working from a shared office space among colleagues, managers can easily keep employees in the loop and accounted for at all times with a quick SMS. Other non-desk employees, like retail personnel, construction workers, and anyone without convenient access to a computer, likely have phones or tablets on their person for quick and efficient SMS for business.

How to Use Text Messaging at Work

While work-related text messages can be a boon for inter-office communication, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes texting is fast, easy, and efficient, but other times oral or in-person communication is a better choice. This often comes down to text-based communication being open to interpretation regardless of how the sender intended their messages to be received.

Like any written communication, texting is open to miscommunication. Without facial expression, body language, inflection, and tone of voice, some aspects of the delivery are lost in translation—making it up to the recipient to build them back in. This can lead to reading too far into a message or misinterpreting it. Therefore, texting about serious or emotionally-charged topics is generally discouraged in favor of short, simple messages that leave little to the imagination.

Another consideration is each employee’s personal preference for communication platforms. According to Text Request, 70% of business professionals think texting is viable for inter-office communication—but your employees might not fit neatly into that trend.

You’ll get better results from your communication if you get to know employees, learn how they prefer to communicate, and message each on their platform of choice. With an advanced communications automation tool like Zelo, you can send your messages on the channel of preference (and with perfect timing) for each employee in the organization.

The Dos and Don’ts of Using Text Messages to Communicate with Employees

When you do employ work-related text messages for inter-office communication, it’s wise to keep the constraints of the medium top of mind. Here are our top dos and don’ts to follow if you plan to start texting in the workplace.

Do:

  • Keep texts short. Texting is built for brief, digestible messages or quick reminders with a few sentences at maximum. If you have a long or detailed narrative to convey, save it for other mediums like email or phone calls. If you require employees to respond, make sure they can do so in a phrase or sentence, as well.
  • Acknowledge boundaries. Don’t text employees too often, as they might see it as a breach of privacy. You don’t want to overuse the privilege of having their cell phone number
  • Keep it professional. Because texting is commonly used for casual conversations between friends and family, you want to keep business-related texts professional. Save the slang, shorthand, and emojis for texting with your mom.

Don’t:

  • Text bad news. If you need to communicate especially bad news, like letting an employee go, don’t inform them via text. Delicate messaging like this is better served via in-person or oral communication. However, if you’re having difficulty re-stocking the break room candy stash, text away!
  • Text good news. For the same reasons as above, don’t text incredibly good news to employees. They deserve to hear about a promotion or bonus in a more personal manner.
  • Text after work. Respect the boundaries of your core work hours and avoid texting employees after they punch out and go home to their families. It’s important to remember that the devices you might be texting are employees’ personal devices that they also use for all non-work-related communications.

Six Ways to Use Text Messaging at Work

We discussed the importance of respecting the power of text messaging and not abusing the privacy of your employees. Here are six Kosher ways to level up your communications using text messaging to give you a better idea of what SMS for business might look like in your organization.

1. Send Quick Updates in Real Time

Work-related text messages excel at communicating brief updates that you want recipients to open quickly. Whether it’s a change to the HR policy, a request to put in time off, or a notification that a team member is out sick, texting is a great way to roll out these updates. Another example is to send team- or company-wide kudos to employees, raising morale and incentivizing productivity.

2. Request Employee Feedback

Want to quickly poll your team without the risk of your important questions being lost in their bottomless inboxes? Send a message they can reply to, allowing you to gather data on your survey! You could ask which day is best for an important meeting, what type of food you should serve there, or how they manage their current workload.

3. Communicate with Non-Desk Workers

During the past two years, many employees who spent their days in a traditional office space began to work remotely, making it more challenging to keep them consistently in the loop with important business news. But these aren’t the only non-desk workers you might want to reach. Truck drivers, retail employees, trades professionals, emergency personnel, and many others don’t have reliable access to email. Sending an SMS makes it easier to relay important information to these professionals.

4. Send Time-Sensitive Alerts

There are myriad alerts that employees need to know about—fast. Don’t fight their inbox clutter when you need to communicate a breach in security or an office closure due to inclement weather. Whatever the emergency, text messaging is likely the fastest and most reliable way to get the information to as many affected employees as possible.

5. Improve the On-boarding Experience

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. There are often dozens of introductions, training, and administrative work to keep up with. Instead of expecting the new hire to master various communication tools within the first few days, help them remember where they’re supposed to be with helpful text messages. They’ll have their phone nearby even if they aren’t near their computer or don’t have an email account set up yet. In addition, you can send them a text with a GPS pin for the nearest and cheapest parking garage or welcome them to the team.

6. Scheduling Shifts

The speed and convenience of SMS communication are useful attributes when you have to communicate gaps in your schedule. If an employee calls in sick at the last minute, send a text to other workers requesting an immediate response if they can cover for their colleague. This works the other way around, too, with employees being able to text their manager if an emergency or unexpected conflict arises and they know they won’t be able to make their shift.

How Zelo Can Improve Your Inter-office Communications

It can be difficult to master internal communication at any organization, but you can seamlessly integrate text messaging into your existing communications policy with the right software at your disposal. When you use Zelo, every employee should be able to receive important business information when they want and on their preferred channel—including SMS. 

With advanced scheduling tools, channel integration, and insightful metric tracking, you can automate the perfect distribution of company updates in your organization. Employees can even opt in to text messaging, providing communicators with an invaluable tool when messaging workers in the field, at home, or away from their desks.

With opt-in text messaging, the employee directly consents to receive text messages—so there’s no risk to using SMS for your business. While texting without permission can carry hefty fees and fines, allowing inclined employees to opt into our SMS service allows for a beneficial way to connect with them on their terms.

Learn more about SMS integration with Zelo and determine whether it’s the right tool for your organization. Or visit the Zelo blog for more helpful tips on office communication.

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