HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Q&A: How Are Your Employees Engaging in Official Communications?

As an HR manager, you frequently send official communications to your employees, but wouldn’t it be nice to know the metrics behind how your employees receive those communications, such as when they read them, which communications get more attention, and what days would be best?


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Getting answers to those questions is the aim of Speakap’s study, Q4 2018 State of Frontline Employee Communications Trend Report, which explores in detail how, when, and to what degree employees interact with messages coming from their organization. Today, we’ll go over some of the results with Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Speakap.

HR Daily Advisor: In the report, Speakap found that the most common type of content shared internally (63%) was private messages. How do you think organizations will respond to that data point?

Van Der Mijl: think it’s a good sign that private messages are so popular among employees. There might be employers that look at the data and think, “Wait a minute. Does that mean our employees are spending their days on their smartphones when they should be working?” No, I really believe the data are saying quite the contrary; it means they’re focusing their work time and efforts more specifically and relevantly on projects and teams and using private messages to communicate quickly and effectively and in a more targeted way (rather than relying on old-school communication methods like e-mail, intranets, etc.).

Let me give you an example. Say the Bristol location of a multiunit quick-service restaurant chain experienced technical difficulties as a result of a natural disaster, which caused an electrical outage in this specific location and, in turn, required quick, effective communications to staff in that location to let them know temporary card payment machines would be deployed to the location to offset the problem and ensure customers are still served properly. In this instance, the head office or regional restaurant manager could use private messages to inform the affected employees from that location about the issue, along with updates on the resolution.

HR Daily Advisor: The report also found that news, updates, and events were consumed internally with greater frequency on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Why, and what can that mean for employers?

Van Der Mijl: The data reveal that news was posted most often at the start and end of the workweek. The highest rate of news being posted was on Mondays (24%), followed closely by Thursdays (18%) and Fridays (18%). Mondays, in particular, ranked highest when it came to the frequency of certain types of enterprise social posts, such as private messages (19%) and updates (18%).

This could be because HR may want to kick-start the week with as much information as possible and provide a recap on key initiatives and programs, or it could use Mondays as a day to post inspiring posts for all employees. Regional managers and the head office could post news on the platform at both the start and the end of the week to alert on-site frontline workers about technical difficulties that could impact their ability to deliver a positive experience to customers and guests.

HR Daily Advisor: What are the key takeaways for HR (best days and times to post, etc.)?

Van Der Mijl: A closer look at the frequency of news consumption found that employees read news items on their enterprise social platform mostly during the late afternoon/early evening hours in Q4 2018. More specifically, 43% of the news items posted daily were read between noon and 6 p.m., while 39% were read between 6 a.m. and noon. One of the reasons for this may be that frontline workers are more focused in the morning on clocking in, getting direction from their supervisors, and setting out to perform their daily tasks; they may wait until the afternoon hours for a lull in customers/guests or when they have a lunch break during which they can read.

HR Daily Advisor: According to the findings, late evenings are the worst time to post events and news for employees to see. What are some of the reasons why organizations think that is an acceptable time to try to connect with employees?

Van Der Mijl: One reason late evenings are the worst times to post news and events could be that, as is obvious when looking at employee satisfaction and turnover rates, employees are putting a higher premium on their personal time and making a bigger effort to disconnect after work hours. This is also being solidified by “right to disconnect” and “antistress” laws that are either in effect or being proposed globally. Our platform allows employees to disable notifications, which means they can shut off alerts after their work shifts end (or even schedule regular do-not-disturb periods for more consistency). By doing so, they can better maintain their work/life balance and focus on the people and activities that bring them happiness and satisfaction.

All of the productivity, convenience, and ease of use technology and mobile devices have brought us has created a tendency for employers—and even employees—to continue working after they’ve ended their shift. Therefore, so many organizations have become accustomed to sending messages to their employees in the late evenings (outside work hours) because of the always-on nature of mobile devices and most people’s digital savviness.

The key to finding the right balance is for companies to not only encourage their employees to cut the digital cord when they’re not working but also implement the types of communications tools that have do-not-disturb features. This would send a powerful message to employees and positively impact their personal fulfillment both inside and outside of work.

In part 2 of this article, we will look at more research takeaways that show how employees engage with internal messages and other forms of communication.