How Texting Works as an Employee Communication Platform
Ben Nebeski
Ben Nebesky,
Business Messaging Strategist
Jul 10, 2021

Learn How Employee Texting Systems Can Help You Send Messages to Employees

Keeping connected to employees, staff, job candidates and recruits requires a lot of time and energy. It’s why many HR professionals frequently find themselves buried when managing day-to-day communications.

You can relate if you’ve spent hours on the phone or sent email blasts that never get read or responded to.

But the problem with staff alerts and employee outreach isn’t necessarily rooted in the process. It’s about not having the right communications tools.

This is why many organizations now use team and employee communication apps like Slack to keep connected and reduce email clutter.

However, internal team chat apps like Slack don’t work for all organizations in every situation. They’re not the only solution for sending internal messages.

This is why HR departments are starting to use text messaging as an employee communication platform to:

  • Announce job openings and organization updates
  • Run text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns
  • Text payroll reminders
  • Post shift openings and scheduling information
  • Send emergency text alerts and announcements to employees
  • Notify and request documents from individual employees
  • Communicate company wide employee recognition

But HR professionals aren’t just starting group chats with employees from their personal cell phones. They’re texting from feature-rich business text messaging platforms using their existing business lines.

We explain how business texting systems work for texting employees and expand on the following topics:

  • Why texting works for employee communication
  • How business texting helps HR professionals save time and scale outreach
  • What types of text messages you can send to employees and recruits
  • Establishing an employee texting policy
  • How to integrate an employee texting system with your existing employee communications

Keep reading for more.

Why Texting Works for Employee Communication

Text messages have some clear advantages over email and voice for internal communication. There’s some debate about which is best, but it all comes down to choosing the right tool for the job.

Looking for more direct, quick engagement? Texts have up to a 90% open rate and a near 45% response rate. Compare that to email with around a 20% open rate and 6% response rate.

Email will always be the standard for longer, more formal communications. It’s easy to compose a message and send an email blast. But it isn’t necessarily great for getting quick responses and sending short, direct, messages.

Consider that typically, employees spend 28% of their day reading and responding to email. This means you’re fighting for attention in their inbox - hoping for a response.

And what if your employees aren’t sitting at a desk or don’t have direct access to email? What if they work on a factory floor or out in the field? Imagine having a call list and how long it would take just to leave a voice message.

This is where text messaging can help.

Email and voice will always have their place. But texting works better for large-scale, direct messaging. It’s more engaging, personal and immediate than email, but just as scalable.

And just about everyone has a text-enabled cell phone. This means that employees who don’t always have email access can still get text alerts.

How Business Text Messaging Helps HR Professionals Save Time and Scale Their Outreach

Business text messaging platforms are different from texting on your personal phone. Texting platforms make it possible to text-enable your existing business phone numbers and text from a shared team-inbox.

This makes texting great as a:

  • Mass notification system to send reminders or other urgent notices
  • Recruitment tool for text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns
  • Individual messenger for 1-on-1 conversations with employees
  • Direct text alert system with messages that go directly to an employee's cell phone

Now, you could use your personal phone to text employees. Some businesses and organizations do this, but there are drawbacks and liabilities. So consider the following:

1. A business texting platform gives you oversight

When you text from your personal phone, there’s no oversight. No one else in your organization can see what’s being said and communicated.

This also means it’s easy to forget to follow up and respond to inbound employee messages. This is why texting platforms offer team-based texting.

2. Business texting apps allow you to schedule and automate with advanced features

Texting platforms allow you to send a text right away or schedule one-time and recurring messages. You can also save the messages you send all the time as templates and add features like personalization tags.

3. Texting from a normal phone doesn’t scale - you need a platform for bulk sends

You’re limited to a low volume of texts per second when you text from your personal phone. This may be ok for most 1-on-1 employee conversations. But it's a problem when you need to send a group or bulk text message blast.

4. Business texting platforms are relatively inexpensive

Good texting platforms aren’t free but when you factor their costs into your normal communications budget, they’re relatively inexpensive. You’re paying for convenience, scalability, and assurance that your messages are getting delivered and read.

5. Business text messaging integrates with your other business tools

Texting platforms integrate with many business tools like QuickBooks Online and Xero. This makes texting a great tool to layer on to your existing employee communications stack alongside email and voice.

What Types of Text Messages HR Professionals Send to Employees and Job Candidates

Texting is an effective employee communication tool that compliments email and voice. But there are some specific ways that HR departments can take advantage of text messaging internally and externally as a staff communication platform.

1. Job openings and organization announcements

Finding and hiring the right talent for the job is an important and ongoing organizational process. Texting existing employees and job candidates about new positions can help fill openings faster. Texting is a more direct and timely way to get the word out.

Hey there {{ FirstName }}, just letting you know that we’ve had some new positions open up. Check out all the details here: {{ WebLink }}

2. Text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns

You might be the sole recruiter in your organization. If so, then text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns can save time and help you reach more job candidates.

Text-to-apply and hire campaigns are automated keyword-based text campaigns. They allow applicants to start the application process on their own by texting a keyword like “APPLY” to your business number. Applicants get a series of automated messages that drive them to an application form or a webpage with more info.

Thanks for your interest in our open position! To take the next steps in the application process, visit our website. {{ WebLink }}

3. Payroll reminders

Use text messages to send automatic timesheet and payroll reminders before pay periods to avoid delays.

Please approve your time card before 4 pm today. Payroll will be submitted promptly at 5 pm. Thank you!

4. Open shift and scheduling announcements

Filling open shifts and scheduling is frequently a communications problem. Texting makes it easy to notify staff, employees and even independent contractors of open and available shifts.

Having a shared inbox also makes it easy to verify that shifts are available and actually getting filled.

Hello everyone, just wanted to let you all know that we have several open shifts that are still available for next week.

5. Emergency text alerts

Many organizations rely on text messaging for emergency text alerts and notifications to all employees. Texting is universal and immediate, which makes it the preferred communications tool for communicating emergencies and urgent notifications.

EMERGENCY ALERT: please be advised of plant closure due to inclement weather.

6. Employee benefits communication

Communicating employee benefits and important dates for open enrollments is yet another use for text messaging. Many organizations schedule these text messages weeks or months in advance and include links in templates to enrollment or benefits management portals.

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is a general reminder that open enrollment for our company health care plan will begin on {{ InsertDate }}. Visit our website for more information: {{ WebLink }}

7. Reminders and document requests

When a job applicant becomes a new employee, there’s often a lot of communication that needs to take place. Text messages can help streamline the onboarding process with reminders and even make it easy to share documents.

If you need contracts turned in, a copy of their ID, or any other documentation, send them a quick text. A simple reminder can save you time and keep you from having to track employees down.

Hey {{ FirstName }}, just wanted to remind you that all of your onboarding paperwork is due by the end of the day on Friday. We need your driver's license or social security card and returned contracts signed.

8. Communicating company wide employee recognition

Texting can also be a great way to communicate company wide employee recognition. All it takes is a quick nod in a company text message update. Letting someone know that their work is appreciated can go a long way.

Hi {{ FirstName }}, great job this month! We really appreciate your positive attitude and work ethic. Keep up the good work - we appreciate your going the extra mile.

Establishing an Employee Texting Policy

Before you start texting employees, you’ll want to consider establishing an employee texting policy. There aren’t any explicit restrictions on texting employees. But it’s a best practice to follow general business texting etiquette and to establish an employee texting policy.

What is an employee texting policy?

An employee texting policy is a document that establishes clear guidelines and rules for texting while on the job. Employee texting policies establish consent and are tailored to the workplace environment and its organizational values.

A proper employee texting policy will take into consideration workplace hazards. Your texting policy may prohibit texting for employees who work on a manufacturing floor or who operate heavy machinery.

Importantly, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for employee texting policies. Each policy should be tailored to your workplace and be consistent with its expectations.

Along with considering safety hazards, you’ll also want to consider consent. This is important for texting in general and TCPA compliance as a business.

You might establish consent from an employee by including a clause in your employment contract. You could also verbally acknowledge that employees agree to receive texts at some frequency for work-related communications.

Suggested Article: The Complete Guide to Consent and TCPA Compliance

Texting employees off the clock

The final component of an employee texting policy will establish when employees can text. Texting is an effective communication and collaboration tool, which also makes it much easier to use after hours.

Generally, you’ll want to avoid texting employees after hours unless you’re sending emergency text alerts or urgent notices. This is because texting outside of work can be considered overtime for non-exempt (hourly) employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) actually requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees who spend time texting, emailing, or on the phone after hours.

To limit when you send and receive text messages, some business text messaging platforms allow you to set up office hours. This helps set expectations and allows you to automatically send employees text responses when you’re out of the office.

How to Integrate an Employee Texting System with Your Existing Employee Communications

1.Text-enable your existing business number

Step one is to text-enable your existing business number or create a new dedicated texting line.

Many business texting platforms allow you to text from a variety of number types. These often include five or six-digit short-codes, toll-free numbers, and ten-digit numbers with a local area code.

A local area code with a ten-digit number is the best option for interoffice text messaging. These numbers look familiar, so employees won’t disregard the message as spam.

You can also text-enable your existing office phone number through number porting. This allows you to keep your current voice provider and send and receive texts.

2. Set up keyword-based text-to-apply campaigns

When a job candidate texts your phone number with a keyword like APPLY, they automatically get a text message back.

The response could link them to an application, give them details about a position, or even list open jobs.

With text-to-apply you can:

  • Make it easy for job applicants to submit an application
  • Easily pre-screen applicants before they interview without scheduling a phone call
  • Simplify the follow-up interview scheduling process

Texting your keyword will also auto-assign that contact to a specific contact group associated with that keyword and autoresponder. This makes it easy to follow up and send more messages.

3. Update, organize and group your contacts

Grouping your contacts based on common traits helps you to deliver more relevant messages.

It’s easy to send mass text messages out to all of your employees when you need to make an announcement. But not giving employees information that is relevant to them can be a waste of time.

Texting platforms make it easy to:

  • Filter contacts based on their status in the recruitment process
  • Keep a current employees contact list
  • Keep a list of people with applications on file
  • Keep a list of independent contractors who are open to work
  • An up to date list of people who have texted a keyword
  • Segment your employees based on who needs to be receiving certain info

You can also add team members to groups based on their department or role.

4.Use scheduled messages and autoresponders

Texting platforms make it easy to automate the process of enrolling staff or recruits into groups.

A keyword is a short, memorable word that's specific to an enrollment group. You can set it to any phrase you choose. For instance, you can select HR or APPLY as your keywords.

You then invite team members to text the keyword to your number to receive information on their phones. Recruits can even get an application sent to them automatically.

Submitting a keyword segments them into a group so that every person who texted in the keyword can be reached later.

5. Create text message templates

Ever feel like you are typing out the exact same messages every week? Your time is significantly more valuable than having to retype the same reminders.

Texting applications allow you to create templates for those frequently used messages. You can even personalize them to make messages more personal, using a dynamic tag like “Hey {{ FirstName }}.”

The texting application automatically inserts the first name of the contact receiving the message.

6. Get the word out to existing employees

Setting up an SMS solution is only half the battle. The other half is getting the employees to jump on board. Here are a few tips to help you build awareness.

  • Feature the opt-in instructions in your organization's internal newsletter. Make the instructions simple and clear and feature them prominently in each bulletin.
  • Post signs with the keyword and text-enabled number around the office.
  • Update your contracts to include a consent box to allow new hires to opt-in to receive text messages.
  • Send a text broadcast to all of your employees. Have them save the number in their phones and let them know that this is your texting number.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

Ready to start texting your employees? MessageDesk is here to benefit your communications strategy with smarter, simpler business text messaging for keeping connected.

Visit our learning center for information on how to get started with MessageDesk. You’ll find a quick start guide to texting, a features overview, and more.

You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.

Finally, feel free to start a 7-day free MesageDesk trial with 50 free text messages.