Somewhere along the way, the idea of automating communication became synonymous with being (at best) unavailable or (at worst) untrustworthy. One-to-one marketing has taught consumers to expect personalization in all facets of their lives, so why would communication with employers be any different?
However, a subtle point that’s often overlooked in this discussion is the fact that automation and personalization are not mutually exclusive. You can, in fact, have both at the same time. And for busy HR professionals, that can lead to huge gains in their own productivity and in employee morale.
Here are five types of employee communications that can (and definitely should) be automated to save HR time while also increasing employee engagement.
Training & Onboarding Surveys
Checking in with new hires upon completion of training or onboarding signals early that you care about their wellbeing and value their feedback. By regularly soliciting this kind of input (and taking action on it), you create a culture of transparency by demonstrating that your workplace is a safe space for employees to share their opinions. (Bonus: This also allows you to modify and improve your onboarding process as you collect feedback over time.)
Why automate: This is a time-sensitive request. One day after training, your new hire will be excited to talk about the experience. A week later, the same ‘ask’ will feel like a chore to them. Not to mention, the quality of the responses you’ll receive goes down with each day that passes as they forget more and more details.
New Hire Check-Ins
New employees are excited to be in their new role, but also feeling pressure to adapt quickly and start performing. A simple check-in after their first day or first week not only reinforces a culture of transparency, but opens the door for two-way employee communication, which SHRM says “builds loyalty and drives improved productivity.”
Why automate: This is also a time-sensitive request that loses its value over time. If you don’t ask about their first week right after their first week, you shouldn’t even bother at all. But if you “remember” to reach out and check-in in the midst of all your other tasks, it again signals respect and belonging when a new employee needs them the most.
Benefits Eligibility / Open Enrollment Deadlines
It’s important to remember when new employees are eligible for benefits, but you nor they should have to carry that burden of remembering. Similarly, existing employees tend not to mark open enrollment on their annual calendars and will surely need a reminder when that time arrives.
Why automate: Do you really want to setup a reminder to send out your reminders? Nobody has time for that. Many employee messaging systems will allow you to schedule these reminders well in advance. That way, when open enrollment season arrives, you can focus on helping your employees complete their paperwork instead of spending all your time tracking them down.
It doesn’t matter if they just started or have been with the company for a decade—all employees love being wished a happy birthday. It’s a small but simple gesture of appreciation that goes a long way in showing that individual employees are valued at your company, and are not just another cog in the wheel.
Why automate: The window of opportunity to wish someone a happy birthday is small—less than 24 hours. By automating this message, you guarantee that you won’t have to make time to complete that task on that day, when 50 other things might be higher on your priority list.
Just as with birthdays, it’s an unexpected delight to have your employer approach you to recognize your work anniversary. Unfortunately, many companies don’t actively track work anniversaries, let alone reach out to thank employees for their dedication. It’s another small but simple reminder that the employee is appreciated.
Why automate: Are you sensing a theme yet? It’s time-sensitive and low-priority (in terms of value-add activity) so it’s likely to be overlooked if it’s not automated.
How to Personalize Your Automated Employee Communications
The short answer: Respond.
The longer answer: Many software solutions will allow you to pre-schedule customized messages to your employees. But (spoiler alert) putting someone’s name in a message doesn’t equate to personalization. What happens after an automated message is sent is what makes the communication feel authentic.
Once an automated message goes out and the recipient replies, you have to keep the conversation going. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, they’ll realize the message was automated and thus be much less likely to respond or open messages in the future. This type of one-way employee communication is what has given message automation a bad reputation.
The channel you choose for these types of automated employee communications is also important. Text messages (as opposed to emails) not only feel more personal, they have a higher open rate and response rate. Emails are fine if you need a paper trail or to attach documents, but you should always follow up with a text message to ensure said email is actually seen.
Wondering how you can actually get all this done and save time in the process? Team Engine’s employee messaging platform lets you easily communicate with your teams by text and email, all managed from one central HR inbox on your laptop or desktop. No more handing out your personal phone number, typing messages on a tiny screen, or dealing with the madness of group text replies! Even better, employees don’t need an app or smartphone to receive the messages; everyone can keep using the tools they’re already familiar with.
Using Team Engine’s automated messaging makes dialog with employees convenient for you and easy for them. This, in turn, increases their loyalty, uncovers issues before they become formal grievances, and creates a feedback loop for continuous improvement.
Want to learn more? Automating employee communication is just one of many ways you can free your day of tedious manual tasks. For more ideas on how to lighten your daily load, read our post about HR automation.