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9 Ways HR Should Use Text Message to Engage Employees


It's not unusual to see a coworker discretely sending a text message at work. Whether it's coordinating an after-work happy hour, letting someone know they are running late, or even just sharing a funny story about their boss, text messaging has found its way into the workplace because it's convenient, mobile and instant. HR teams looking for the best ways to increase employee engagement are taking note, with more and more using text messaging to communicate at work.

Exactly how popular is text messaging? According to a Pew Research Center report, text messaging is used more frequently and by a larger group of people than any other app on the smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it daily. Millennials and Generation Z are even more dependent on texting as a primary communication tool.

For decades there has been a stigma against text messaging at work. But those unfounded claims have faded due to the sorry state of email's barely trackable response rates, phone calls that are too time-consuming for larger organizations, and the emergence of text messaging tools that have made SMS more personalized, measurable and effective than ever before.

But where should your HR team start when using text messaging to communicate with employees? We have put together a list of the nine most impactful ways your team can use SMS to engage employees.

1. Employee Onboarding

A new employee's first day on the job can have a lasting impact on their attitude towards their new employer and retention further down the road. Logistics businesses like Con-Way Truckload and healthcare organizations like SSM Health have been using text messaging to make their employee onboarding run more smoothly. This includes sending reminders of required paperwork, training dates and times, and links to Google Maps directions to confirm their starting locations. Text messaging can help HR make sure new hire start dates consistently happen on time.

2. Trainings

Encouraging employees to attend training sessions can be a major challenge for HR teams, which can be frustrating as they are often tied to compliance and professional development goals. Text message reminders can help drive attendance to training sessions and keep them top of mind for employees, rather than letting them get lost in email inboxes. Engaging employees on their mobile devices also ensures that even if they are away from their desk they are notified and reminded of key training events.

open enrollment text message

3. Open Enrollment and Benefits Administration

Awareness surrounding open enrollment periods and the administration of employee benefits can be frustrating for both HR and employees if they are not on the same page. Text messaging is not only a great way to send reminders of important dates and link back to necessary forms but also a great way to provide useful information and answer questions about benefit package options.

4. Recruiting

If you have been following TextRecruit for a while then the use of text messaging for recruiting might be obvious, but many recruiters continue to unsuccessfully rely on email and InMail to communicate with candidates about new job postings. Recruiters using text message are experiencing 99% open rates and 30-40% response rates.

5. Scheduling

HR teams that manage ever-changing employee schedules do not have it easy. Shifts can change minutes before they start and getting ahold of people wherever they are can be critical. Text messaging can come in hand for coordinating schedules and sending updates when your employees are on the go or working on a distributed team. Restaurants, retail, construction and logistics businesses are especially dependent on well-coordinated work schedules.

Scheduling Restaurant Shifts

6. Payroll

HR may field more questions about payroll than anything else. "When will payroll happen this month?" "What about the holiday coming up this week?" Text message platforms can save HR professionals time by utilizing saved templates and message scheduling features. Notification texts that indicate direct deposits have been made or checks have been mailed are also extremely popular.

7. Surveys

It's easy to assume you know exactly what employees at your company are thinking, but rarely do you have the full picture. Driving employees to mobile-optimized surveys with text messaging can help you get a better sense of team morale and gain input on how to do business better.

8. Motivation

Recognizing top performing employees is critical to building a culture of success within your business. Whether it's congratulating a sales team member on a great quarter, celebrating a breakthrough from the product team, or announcing quarterly earnings, keeping your employees informed and motivated drives growth. Text messaging is a great way to increase team motivation because it's instant and generates informal conversations about your company among your employees.

9. Emergency Preparedness

Many HR teams have a strong role in ensuring their employees are prepared should they face an emergency situation in the workplace. Whether it's a hold a roll call, sharing information, or send notifications of critical events, communication during emergency situations is more mobile and flexible using text message.

The role of text messaging in HR is growing rapidly and can help your team engage employees more effectively. TextHR is an employee engagement platform that can help you personalize messages, organize conversations, and stay compliant when communicating with your team. 


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