An employee messaging system keeps all your workplace communication in one centralized location, making it faster and easier to reach your employees, give and receive feedback, and find the information you’re looking for.
Table of contents
- What Is an Employee Messaging System?
- Features of an Effective Employee Messaging System
- How To Choose the Right Employee Messaging System
- How To Use Employee Messaging Systems for Better Workplace Communication
- Best Practices for Using Employee Text Messaging Systems
- The 3 Best Employee Messaging Systems
In today’s environment of dispersed and deskless workers, efficiently communicating with your employees is more challenging than ever. Many employees are out in the field most of the day or working in different time zones, so traditional communication methods don’t always work. An employee messaging system can help you overcome these challenges so you can reach your workforce no matter where or when they’re working.
What Is an Employee Messaging System?
An employee messaging system is a tool for communicating with everyone in your organization using a central platform. With an employee messaging system, you can communicate with instant messages, chats, voice calls, bulletin boards, social feeds, and more. Employees can easily share information, collaborate, and manage daily tasks.
Features of an Effective Employee Messaging System
Not all employee messaging systems are equally useful. To get the most out of yours, look for a solution that has the following features:
If the UI of your messaging system is clunky and outdated, you’ll have a hard time getting your employees to use it. A good messaging system will be an integral part of almost every workflow, so choosing one that’s easy to use should be a top priority.
Ideally, the system should have an intuitive design — everyone should be able to figure out how it works from the dashboard or access point. You may need to provide your employees with some training on your system, but it shouldn’t be so complicated that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
People use mobile devices far more than they use laptops or desktop computers — deskless workers in particular. Your employees likely always have a mobile device on them, so an effective system will allow them to communicate and receive notifications on their phones or tablets.
Your messaging system should be incorporated into your daily routine so employees can use it effortlessly throughout their work day. A good system will integrate with tools you already use, such as email and project management software.
Every business is different, and your employee messaging system needs to be able to accommodate those differences by allowing you to customize the platform. Being able to set up different channels or groups based on projects, topics — even common interests — will make your system more useful.
Older messages don’t necessarily lose their importance as newer ones bury them, so “gone” shouldn’t mean “forgotten.” Searching through old conversations is extremely useful when you need information about past projects.
When your employees are collaborating on a project, being able to share files within the messaging system can speed up progress.
Security and Privacy
You’ll be discussing confidential business information on your messaging system, so make sure you choose one that protects your privacy and provides advanced security features.
How To Choose the Right Employee Messaging System
Your company is unique, and so are your communication needs. Before you start evaluating vendors, think about how you currently communicate and how you could improve your current communications. You’ll need different features if your employees are primarily in the field than you will if they’re all usually in the same office.
Ask your employees what they think of your current system and how they’d prefer to communicate. When they feel like they have a voice in choosing the system, they’re more likely to implement it and be engaged while using it.
Once you understand what your employees want and what features can help you improve communications, you can start comparing vendors. Look for the features you identified as most important, make sure your data will be protected, and compare the prices for the plans you need. Many companies offer stripped-down free versions, but they may not be the best choice.
How To Use Employee Messaging Systems for Better Workplace Communication
Once you have your system in place, here are some ways you can use it to streamline your daily business operations:
Onboarding and Orientation
Your employees have a lot to learn when they first start working with you. From where to get coffee refills to mastering their new role, successful onboarding requires more than just signing some HR forms and watching a few training videos. You want your new hires to adopt your company’s culture and values as they learn the ropes. You also don’t want them standing around waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.
Your employee messaging system can simplify the onboarding process and make it easier for new employees to assimilate into their work teams. Many different departments need to be involved in bringing on new hires.
An onboarding workflow in your messaging system can make it easy for different departments to track onboarding and orientation activities. That way, employees will know exactly what’s expected of them and what they should do next, and managers and your HR department won’t have to duplicate their work for every employee.
Messaging systems also make it easier for employees to get to know their new team members and check in with their mentors and supervisors. If they have a question, sending a message is quicker and easier than emailing or physically searching for their supervisors.
Your employees can use messaging systems to collaborate by sharing ideas, updates, and files quickly with each other. Messaging systems provide real-time communication, so your teams can discuss and resolve issues immediately — without needing long, drawn-out email threads or in-person meetings.
Use your messaging system as a central location for documents and other information related to current projects where all team members can access it. By keeping everyone in the loop, you can avoid misunderstandings and conflicting priorities. A robust messaging system will serve as an on-the-go project management tool, allowing employees to stay updated on progress and plan their next steps.
Open communication is essential to creating a positive work culture where employees are engaged and feel valued. Feedback is one way to foster more open, honest communication between managers and workers and between peers.
Using your internal communications channels to facilitate feedback on multiple levels provides everyone at your company with the insight they need to improve their performance in their roles. Managers can give employees feedback to recognize a job well done and point out areas for improvement. Messaging systems are ideal when a one-on-one just isn’t possible. They’re also great for following up after a more formal performance review.
Peers can give each other feedback to acknowledge when someone has gone above and beyond. And though manager-to-employee and peer-to-peer feedback are necessary, don’t overlook the importance of soliciting employee feedback about managers and company policies.
It’s expensive to replace employees — costing an average of one-half to two times their salary. When you solicit feedback from your employees and act on it, they tend to feel valued and are more likely to be engaged with the company and their jobs. You can do this with your messaging system in several ways.
- A company feed gives employees a chance to react in real time to events and communication. They can leave comments and emojis on messages so you can get a feel for employee sentiment around your announcements.
- You can use your messaging system to generate and send surveys — everything from simple pulse checks to more comprehensive employee satisfaction surveys. Follow up by using the data generated from your surveys to make informed decisions to improve your employees’ work experience.
Thankfully, true emergencies are rare for most businesses. But when they occur, they demand quick action to protect everyone involved. You do not want to be trying to figure out a complicated emergency communication system in the middle of a crisis.
Instead, you can use your messaging system for emergency communication. Setting up emergency response procedures and safety protocols ahead of time will put you ahead of the game when an emergency occurs. You’ll be able to notify employees of what actions they should take during a crisis or natural disaster. You can also send out alerts and make sure everyone knows where to gather after a fire alarm or evacuation.
Even for more minor emergencies, your communication system can be a lifesaver. Let your employees know they don’t need to worry about trying to drive to work on icy roads or send tips for emergency preparedness during hurricane season.
Shift Scheduling and Reminders
Staying on top of changing schedules is challenging for both employees and managers. Your communication system can help everyone keep track by providing shifts and schedules in a central location.
Managers can quickly draft schedules and send reminders to employees that their shift is starting soon. Employees can switch shifts directly without having to go through managers. Employees can also request time off directly through the messaging system, so there are no mistakes or misunderstandings. You can duplicate schedules to avoid repetitive work and send everyone a notification when a new schedule is published.
Communication With Non-Desk Workers
Deskless employees can feel like they’re cut off from the rest of the team if you don’t prioritize communication. While deskless workers aren’t new, technology now offers the means to communicate with them more effectively than ever. Workers in healthcare, restaurant service, manufacturing, and construction don’t always have the easy access to email that office workers have, so they need more immediate forms of communication.
Messaging systems provide direct contact with deskless workers so they can stay up-to-date and feel included in company events. They can also quickly check in with questions or concerns and update their supervisor about their progress without making phone calls.
Polling and Information Sharing
Let your employees know about company events, such as:
- Job openings
- New policies
- Benefit enrollment deadlines
- Social events
If you’re planning an event, send a quick poll to get everyone’s opinion. For example, if you’re planning a company Christmas party, provide options — do your employees want to have a potluck, a cookie exchange, or go out for karaoke? Fire off a quick survey to find out.
Employee Recognition and Morale Boosting
You can also use your company feed for employee recognition and shoutouts. Everyone likes to feel valued for their work, and creating a culture of recognition will improve employee retention.
To be effective, recognition should be timely and connected to the company values. Recognition that comes months after good work won’t be as effective as an immediate shoutout. Use your company feed to recognize and reward your top performers immediately.
You can also empower employees to reward each other by setting up an employee reward program. Managers and employees can give rewards that can be traded in for gift cards.
Although there’s tremendous value in public rewards, it’s also important to send personal messages of appreciation. Since a deskless work environment means employees are constantly on the move, you aren’t as likely to run across an employee to pass along your praise. Encourage managers to send individuals encouraging private messages to help build relationships.
Communication With New Hires
Adjusting to a new job can be overwhelming, and your new employees are particularly vulnerable during their first few weeks. Make the process easier by keeping in close contact through your messaging system.
Let your new hires know how to use the messaging system and add them to any channels their team is on to foster a sense of community. Managers should maintain close contact throughout the training period, making sure employees can ask any questions they have and that they’re progressing through the onboarding activities as expected.
Set up automated messages to communicate with new hires based on specific triggers. For instance, you might send a congratulatory note along with a reward when they complete their orientation training. However, make sure their manager also sends personalized messages and checks in with them frequently.
Best Practices for Using Employee Text Messaging Systems
Employee messaging systems are powerful communication tools. However, like any tool, they can be misused. To ensure yours is being used to benefit both your company and your employees, you should establish best practices for using it.
Set Clear Guidelines
Try not to abuse the privilege of being able to contact your employees. If your organization has clear work hours, don’t use your messaging system during off hours. If your business operates for extended hours, make sure your employees know they aren’t expected to check or respond to messages during their off hours.
You don’t necessarily want to restrict the use of the messaging system only to work conversations — setting up channels for shared interests is a great way to foster community and innovation — but you should expect all messages to be respectful and professional. Make expectations clear and let everyone know that if they wouldn’t say it in front of their supervisor, they shouldn’t say it on the messaging system.
Maintain Privacy and Security
Not only do you need to protect confidential company information, but your employees also need to know that their communications will be kept private when appropriate. If an employee sends their manager a message about a personal matter, they should be able to trust that it will be handled confidentially.
Your messaging system should improve employees’ productivity, not detract from it. Avoid overusing your system and distracting your employees from doing their primary work. The human brain wasn’t designed for multitasking, so let your employees concentrate on high-value tasks.
Additionally, if you over-text, your staff will start tuning you out. When everything is important, nothing is important. Endless notifications about every minor issue will lose their impact. Keep minor updates in the company feed and limit notifications to truly important messages and time-sensitive information.
The 3 Best Employee Messaging Systems
Connecteam is an all-in-one employee messaging system with advanced chat features so you can stay in touch with your team no matter their location. With Connecteam, you can send audio messages, videos, images, and files. The geolocation feature even lets you know exactly where your employees are while they’re working.
With a web app and mobile access, you don’t need any special equipment to stay in touch, making Connecteam ideal for deskless workers.
You can create custom smart groups based on criteria in the embedded employee directory. Add all members of a particular team to one group chat and all managers to another. You don’t need to manually add people one at a time.
Keep conversations on track and professional by appointing a moderator. The administrator can remove inappropriate content and set controls to restrict access to certain features.
With enhanced security features, Connecteam keeps your messages and other data safe. When employees leave your organization, they automatically lose their access to Connecteam. Data isn’t downloaded to individual devices, and information can’t be saved or exported from the system.
Slack was designed for business communication. Its workflow and chat features let you collaborate and communicate in real time. You can set up different channels in Slack based on project, location, team, or any other category.
With Slack, your group chats are organized into threads, outlining a clear structure. You can edit and delete messages and send quick responses. Slack integrates with other common business tools and offers a free subscription.
WhatsApp is a free messaging system owned by Meta. WhatsApp is often used for secure communication due to its two-factor authentication, encryption, and disappearing messages. You can create group chats to send texts, voice notes, files, photos, and videos. WhatsApp lets you know who’s online and who has seen your messages.
In addition to their free plan, WhatsApp also has a business plan for internal communication and mass text messaging your employees as well as direct texting with customers.