For company leaders, internal communications managers, and others in roles that oversee company communication, putting time and effort into messaging that never gets read by employees is disheartening. It’s frustrating to reference a new policy change or upcoming event you covered in an internal newsletter only to have several team members say, “Wait, what?”
Henrik Jesman Sunde
April 18, 2022
Contrary to what some employees may believe, internal communications tend to include important information about strategies, clients, office happenings, policies, personnel changes, etc. These internal comms need to not only reach recipients, but actually be opened and read. What many who send out internal comms find, though, is that a good percentage of employees rarely look at the messages their company sends out, meaning they miss valuable updates and are out of the loop in the office.
So, what can you do? We’ve got some ideas.
First, it’s good to understand why your employees aren’t reading emails to begin with. It’s likely your internal comms strategy is getting snagged on one (or all) of these issues:
If you’re sending emails, newsletters, or any other messaging too frequently, it will just become digital noise for many employees. They’re likely busy enough as it is, and more inbox clutter is the last thing they want to be constantly tending to.
Or, maybe what you’re sending has a reputation for not being very useful for employees. Maybe you’re sending messages that aren’t relevant to them, or maybe your outreach is formatted in a cluttered way that takes too much time to sort through. Put yourself in their shoes: Would you continue to open outreach that’s all work and no reward?
A big issue those in internal comms roles have experienced in the last few years is overcrowded channels. By that, we mean that employees are expected (or just prefer) to be on more channels than ever, such as email, Slack, Teams, WhatsApp, intranet, their phone, etc. They’re getting emails, texts, push notifications, pings. It’s a lot to keep up with. You could actually be sending out great, valuable messaging, but it’s getting lost in the sea of content pouring out on each of these channels.
Now that we’ve explored the why, let’s go over some ways to re-engage employees and increase the likelihood of your outreach being read.
If you want to boost engagement and get everyone in your office on the same page, here are some ideas to consider.
We know, it’s easier said than done. But remember, your role as an internal comms distributor isn’t just to send out messages, it’s to make sure they get read. Because of that, there has to be something in it for the employee. Include only the information employees need to know, let them know why it’s important, and tell them how to best use it. Don’t email-bomb employees with every little thing or your internal company newsletter will become white noise.
Employees have enough to manage, so your internal company newsletter cannot be a novel. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible, break up the text, and keep it easy to scan. Underline or bold the most important takeaways, ensure it’s easy to understand, and give each topic its own section so it doesn’t get lost.
Surveys, polls, trivia questions, fun facts, jokes—they’re all great ways to give employees something to look forward to when opening company outreach, as well as a way to engage and build a ritual out of reading your internal newsletter. If you include surveys or polls, send out the results (as long as responses don’t need to remain confidential) to generate even more interest.
Employees not reading emails? Be direct and ask them why. Open your process up to feedback, and be prepared to listen. If a large number of employees say that outreach is too frequent, lacks substance or value, or is sent through a channel they never look at, work to adapt your strategy to address the feedback you get. And don’t just ask them what’s not working, ask for what would make it more valuable for them.
Everyone responds to an incentive. Maybe it could be that the first person who responds to your internal newsletter gets a gift card, or that person could leave 30 minutes early for the day. You could do a pop quiz in your next meeting with a question answered in the newsletter and reward the first person who knows the answer with a lunch out with the boss, a prime parking spot for a week, or an extra PTO day.
People are visual creatures. Adding photos, GIFS, videos, memes, or other visual content automatically makes your outreach more interesting. Just keep them work-appropriate, of course, as well as relevant. A video of you or the boss going over updates is more engaging than a paragraph of text.
And don’t just rely on imagery, make the entire newsletter look great. Utilize templates and throw in some color to make your outreach look polished and eye-catching.
Up the connection factor for your outreach by making it more human. Speak in simple terms, no stuffy jargon. Add employee features or shoutouts for a personal touch and to help employees feel included, and consider having space for employees to share what they think is important work-wise to share with their colleagues.
This is a big one when it comes to your internal comms strategy. It doesn’t matter how great your internal newsletter is, if it’s not being read, it’s not worth much. You need to ensure your communication is noticed. To do that, you need to get it in front of the right people at the right time in the right location. Tools like Zelo make that easy. With Zelo, you’re able to use your employees’ preferences to reach them on the channel they prefer and at the time that works best for them.
Maybe they prefer email, maybe Slack. Maybe they’re the most reachable by email. And some are more likely to check their messages first thing in the morning, while others may not look until the end of the work day. Customizing your outreach based on employees’ preferred channel and time increases your chances of messages being read.
Blanketed messaging for the whole company may not always be the way to go. Before sending anything out, consider who these topics actually apply to. If you make a habit of pinging people on things that have nothing to do with them, you’re likely to start going straight to Trash. While you don’t need to go super granular, it is a good idea to customize your messaging for particular groups.
Before you can reel them in, you need a sharp hook. Tease employees’ curiosity with subject lines, preview text, and headers that capture their attention and make them want to read further. Some creativity and humor where appropriate go a long way, as does using a human interest angle, like referencing a holiday or employee by name (Example: Shoutout to James!). If these aren’t possible given the subject matter or company culture, then at least be sure to make it clear in the subject line why reading is important (Example: Update about paychecks).
If you’ve been struggling to figure out what you can do to encourage employees to read announcements, there has to be at least one thing on this list that can boost your open rates. Aside from adding more personality and value, remember that one of the biggest ways to increase engagement is to be in the right place at the right time.
Zelo’s platform helps support that, allowing you to create attractive, branded internal outreach sent to your employees’ preferred channel at their preferred time. It’s a way to make sure you’re getting employees’ attention without adding clutter, and it couldn’t be easier to use. Explore Zelo’s features here, or book a demo to discuss your pain points and see if Zelo would be right for your needs.
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