Using Text Messages to Communicate With Employees & Staff
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Guide to Using Employee Text Messaging Systems to Communicate with Employees & Staff

Employers, managers, and HR professionals need fast, immediate ways to communicate with employees, staff, job candidates, and recruits.

Email and voice have traditionally done the job, but they come with some limitations.

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

In this article, I cover:

  1. What employee text messaging is
  2. Why texting works for staff and employee communication
  3. How to get started with an employee text messaging system
  4. Eight ways employers, managers, and HR professionals can use texting in the workplace
  5. How to establish an employee texting policy
  6. Frequently asked employee communication questions

By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to start sending mass text messages to employees.

Keep reading for more.

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Get started with a 14-day free MessageDesk trial. No payment required. ❤️
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What is Employee Text Messaging?

SMS employee communication and employee text messaging are work-related text messages. Employers, managers and HR professionals use employee texting platforms and company text alert systems for:

  • Job announcements and openings
  • Organization updates and emergency text alerts
  • After hours communication and texting in sick to work
  • Post shift openings and scheduling information
  • Document and information requests
  • Employee benefits communication
  • Payroll reminders and company-wide employee recognition

Why Using Text Messages to Communicate with Employees and Staff Works

Text messaging has some clear advantages over email and voice—especially for internal communication.

Some organizations also use internal team communications tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

But choosing the right tool for the job comes down to your employees’ communication preferences and capabilities.

So consider the following reasons why texting works for communicating with employees and staff.

1. Texting is a faster, more responsive, and scalable way to communicate with employees and staff than email or calling

It’s easy to compose a mass employee email and hit send.

But email is a crowded space. Employees spend about 28% of their day reading and responding to emails. This gives you a hit-or-miss chance of getting their attention.

And mass employee emails aren’t necessarily great for quick, short, direct, messages or getting immediate responses.

Need proof? 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 a 6% response rate.

Email will always have its place for employee communication. But sending a mass text to employees can be better for large-scale, direct messaging. It’s more engaging and immediate than email, but just as scalable.

And what if your employees or staff aren’t sitting at a desk? What if they don’t have direct access to email? What if they work on a factory floor or out in the field?

Employees who don’t always have email access won’t see your message.

You could also call your employees and staff. Imagine how long it would take just to leave everyone a voice message.

But almost everyone has a text-enabled cell phone. So all you need is an employee texting app to send an instant company-wide alert to all employees.

2. Employees and staff don’t need to download a mobile app to get company text alerts

Many businesses and organizations have adopted internal team messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams to keep connected to their employees.

These tools are fantastic. They do a great job of managing and organizing internal team chats.

But all of these forms of internal team communication require a smartphone, mobile app, and internet connection.

So what happens in an emergency? Or what if your employees work in places without reliable internet access? Or what if some of your employees don’t own smartphones and can’t get access to a mobile app?

This is where communicating with employees via text works. Text messages get sent over the telecommunications network, not the internet. This means texts get delivered regardless of internet connection.

And text messaging is pretty much universal on all mobile devices. Nearly everyone has a phone that’s capable of receiving text messages.

3. Text message automation makes it easy to share information

Automated text messages enable staff and employees with immediate access to information. Employee texting software also helps you automate responses and follow-ups.

All an employee needs to do is text an autoresponder keyword like “SCHEDULE”, “PTO”, “TIMEOFF”, “APPLY” or “INFO”. The response then directs them to a support resource or manager.

Automation makes texting great for things like:

  • Scheduling text message announcements and return-to-work notifications
  • Automatially reminding employees to submit their timesheets
  • Getting employees to subscribe to text alerts for urgent notices
  • Recruiting with text-to-apply and text-to-hire campaigns
  • Submitting time off requests or sick leave text messages
  • Getting instant access to benefits information and company policies
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How to Get Started with an Employee Text Messaging System

How does texting employees work? For starters, texting from an employee texting platform isn’t like texting from your personal phone for work.

Some businesses and organizations do this, but there are drawbacks and liabilities.

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.

So here’s what you need to know to get started with employee texting software.

1. Choose an employee text messaging system or app

The first step to texting employees is choosing an employee texting platform.

Looking to text staff and employees one-on-one? You’ll need a business text message service with a shared team SMS inbox. This feature helps you manage multiple two-way text conversations at the same time.

Doing large-scale company-wide text messaging? You’ll want a company text alert system that supports bulk text messaging and text blasts.

MessageDesk offers internal texting features that support both of these employee communication needs.

MessageDesk Team Inbox

2. Create a free account

The next step is to create a free account. You can do this with MessageDesk by starting a 14-day free trial.

You’re also free to meet with a messaging expert to discuss your specific messaging needs.

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3. Text-enable your existing business number

Next, you’ll need to get a text number for your employee communications.

Many business texting platforms allow you to text from a variety of SMS phone number types and even text phone number extensions.

Your number options often include 10-digit local phone numbers and toll-free numbers.

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 business landline or an existing office phone through number porting. This allows you to keep your current voice provider and also send and receive texts on your main business line.

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4. Upload, organize, and group your contacts

Grouping your employees based on department or position 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.

MessageDesk makes it easy to import a .csv file with a list of phone numbers. Once your contacts are in MessageDesk, search and select the employees(s) or teams(s) you’d like to text.

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5. Create text message templates

Ever feel like you’re typing out the exact same messages to employees and staff every week?

Employee texting platforms make it easy to save templates for frequently used text messages. You can even customize text messages with tags to auto-insert {{ FirstName }} into every text.”

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6. Set up keyword-based autoresponders

When a job candidate or employee texts a keyword like APPLY, INFO, or TIMEOFF they automatically get a text.

The response could link them to an application, benefits information, or to your scheduling portal.

Once an employee texts your keyword, you can use your SMS inbox to manage conversations. You can share more info or even confirm an appointment.

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7. Schedule mass text message broadcasts to employees and staff

Mass texting services for employees make it easy to schedule text message broadcasts to send at a later date.

You can also take advantage of automated text message campaigns to encourage employees to subscribe to company text alerts. Here’s how:

  • Feature opt-in instructions in your organization's internal newsletter.
  • Post signs with a keyword like SUBSCRIBE and promote your text-enabled number.
  • Send a text broadcast to all of your employees and ask them to save your company's number on their phones.
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Try Employee Texting Software for Free

Get started with a 14-day free MessageDesk trial. No payment required. ❤️

8 Ways Employers, Managers, and HR Professionals Can Use Texting in the Workplace

Texting is an effective employee communication tool that compliments email, voice, and even internal team chat apps.

But below are some examples of how HR departments and managers can communicate effectively with texting in the workplace.

1. Job openings and organization announcements

Finding and hiring the right talent for a job is an important and ongoing organizational process.

Texting existing employees and new job candidates about positions can help fill openings faster. Texting gives you 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 recruiter in your organization. If so, then text-to-apply and text-to-hire text recruiting campaigns can help you reach candidates and save time.

Text-to-apply and hire campaigns are a type of auto-reply text message campaign. They allow applicants to start the application process in their own time. All they have to do is text a keyword like “APPLY” to your business number.

Applicants then get a series of auto-reply texts. These 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 and timesheet reminders

You can schedule 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 a frequent communication problem.

Texting makes it easy for managers to text employees, staff, and even independent contractors about open and available shifts. This is where texting works especially well for staffing agencies.

Having a shared SMS inbox also makes it easy to respond and verify that shifts are available or 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 and staff.

Texting is universal and immediate. This makes it the preferred communication tool for 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 health care enrollments is yet another use for text messaging.

Many organizations schedule these text messages weeks or months in advance. Their texts often 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.

Need contracts turned in, a copy of an ID, or any other documentation? Send 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.
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How to Establish 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 to 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 takes workplace hazards into consideration.

Your texting policy may prohibit texting for employees who work on a manufacturing floor or who operate heavy machinery.

There’s no one-size fits all rule for employee texting policies. But 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.

Texting employees off the clock

The final component of an employee texting policy sets the rules for contacting staff after hours.

Business texting is an effective communication and collaboration tool. This also makes it easier to send after-hours text messages.

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.

Consider publishing an after-hours communication policy to limit when you send and receive text messages. This can help set communication expectations.

Frequently Asked Employee Communication Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about texting in the workplace for employers.

What are the laws about contacting employees after hours?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines regulations for texting employees after hours.

The FLSA does require employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees. Specifically for those that spend time texting, emailing, or calling after hours for business purposes.

Can companies read text messages on company phones?

Employers may monitor personal text messages on a company-owned mobile device.

Employees of private companies should have no expectation of privacy when using company-issued hand-held communication devices. Privacy is expected for employees' personal devices.

Is it illegal to contact employees after work?

Contacting employees outside working hours is currently legal. The United States doesn’t have explicit laws forbidding employers from contacting employees after work hours.

Do employees need to give consent to receive text messages?

Per TCPA guidelines, employees don’t need to give express written consent to receive text messages.

Promotional messages are an exception. You will need an employee's express written consent to send them promotional messages.

It’s still recommended that you enforce a company text messaging policy. You’ll also want to get your employees' express written consent before sending them recurring SMS communications.

Try Employee Texting Software for Free

Get started with a 14-day free MessageDesk trial. No payment required. ❤️

Final thoughts and next steps

Ready to start texting your staff and employees? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler text messaging.

Start sending texts with a free MessageDesk account today. Check out our paid plans - pricing starts at just $14 per month. You’re also free to meet with a messaging expert for a demo.