If you're like a lot of business owners, you may be hesitant to start texting with employees. After all, it can feel a bit invasive and impersonal to send company information over a text. However, when used correctly, texting can be an incredibly effective way to communicate with employees because it’s quick, efficient, and doesn't require everyone to be in the same place at the same time. Even better, there are a lot of group texting software options on the market (like Team Engine) that support this type of HR messaging.
Whether you’re just getting started with employee texting or have been doing it for years, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when communicating with employees via text.
1. Establish clear expectations when texting with employees
When you start using texting software with employees, it's important to establish clear expectations about when, why and how text messages are to be used. Every company’s needs and expectations will be different, but we recommend covering the following with employees before you start sending them text messages:
- Let everyone know the number that text messages will be coming from. Encourage them to save the number in their phone so they recognize it when you contact them, and so they can contact you quickly when needed.
- Explain the type of communications you expect to be sending (e.g. weather-related announcements, details about company events, and reminders about upcoming performance reviews)
- Explain the type of communications they should use text messages for, such as when they are calling off or if they missed a clock-out.
- Explain the type of communication that text messages should not be used for, such as for reporting behavioral issues with coworkers, informing HR of sensitive or personal information, and disciplinary information.
By setting these expectations upfront, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that texting is used effectively.
2. Keep texts brief and to the point
The fastest way to get your HR text message number blocked is to send irrelevant and overly complicated messages. If you’re preparing to send a text to your employees, it should be with a very simple and specific purpose, such as to confirm they completed certain paperwork or to ask them to swing by your desk on their way home. If it takes more than a sentence or two to explain what you need or to get your point across, it probably warrants a full conversation in person.
3. Use text messages to communicate time-sensitive information
This is especially pertinent for employees who are out in the field and/or who work shifts outside of normal business hours. Texting employees is the most reliable method when you need to get a message out right away and be guaranteed that it will be seen, such as to alert workers of a traffic jam to avoid on the highway. Text messaging works so well in these instances because employees don’t have to answer a call, open their email app, or dial their voice mailbox to receive the information. One quick glance and they got it!
4. Avoid sending sensitive information over text message
If there’s any downside to texting with employees, it’s that text messages aren’t the most secure form of communication. They’re ideal for fast and efficient exchange of information, or to ask a quick question, but less than ideal for information that needs to be kept private (such as disciplinary action, delivering bad or emotional news, or having any kind of in-depth conversation). That’s because it’s hard to type out a long message, it’s impossible to read body language on a text, and because the message could easily fall into the wrong hands.
By establishing clear expectations and keeping texts brief and to the point, you can ensure that everyone stays organized and on track. Additionally, text messages can be a great way to communicate time-sensitive information with field workers and secondary shift members—as long as you avoid using it to communicate sensitive information. Keep these best practices in mind as you experiment with using texting software to keep your employees informed, and they’ll surely thank you for the courtesy and convenience.