Do You Text Your Employees and Job Applicants?

I never thought I’d be a person who would choose texting over e-mail, but I’ve gotten to that point. That says a lot because, until just several years ago, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to text, rather than just pick up the phone. “But in the time it takes you to text me that message, you could have just called and asked me that question,” I used to tell people. That was back in the days before I had a smartphone, so I didn’t understand the beauty and ease of texting via an iPhone. Now I can understand why anyone, who isn’t an extreme extravert with massive amounts of extra time, would infinitely prefer tapping out a quick text to calling. A similar revolution is happening in many of your employees’ preference for receiving messages by text, rather than by e-mail.

A survey I saw this week by SilkRoad ( illuminated how far behind the times companies are in communications technology. You’d think, with texting quickly becoming the default mode of communication, that companies would be ready to text out messages to employees and job candidates. But that’s not so.

Here are some of the findings of SilkRoad’s “What Keeps HR Up At Night?” study that caught my attention:

  • Only 30 percent of HR professionals can communicate with candidates about jobs via mobile.
  • Some 55 percent of those surveyed are concerned with properly engaging and retaining employees.
  • Yet 61 percent are neutral about, or unconcerned that, their companies’ recruiting applications and processes be enabled for mobile—“missing a huge opportunity”

There are concerns when texting employees, and prospective employees, in that the recipients of the texts may be charged per text, in a way that those receiving e-mail are not. In addition, to receive texts from you, those you would like to communicate with must “opt-in” to receive the messages, and also must be given instructions on how to stop receiving the messages if they change their minds. That aspect of mobile communications is a hassle, but well worth it because of what you gain in exchange for making the effort.

You gain employees and job applicants more likely to respond to your messages in a timely fashion. This is especially important for everything from company-wide emergency messaging to work group-specific communications about a change in meeting time or new information to give to customers. Do you really want your account executives, or those working in the field with customers, such as technicians, to have to check their company e-mail before receiving the latest information needed to best serve your customers?

The convenience from the employee perspective also can’t be under-estimated in importance. It’s reassuring to work for a company that you can see is trying to make your work flow as streamlined as possible. E-mail is great for long-winded messages with attachments, but if you need to notify employees that it’s open enrollment time for health insurance, that the office will be closed today due to a blizzard, or that pricing has just changed on a product the employee is in the process of selling, texting is much better. It’s immediate, with no need for the employee to go out of her way to see the message.

Employees with company-provided mobile devices have the best of all worlds. That way, the employee doesn’t incur any charge for the texts from the employer. The company probably can work out a volume-based discount with its mobile provider for the texts it sends to its employees, though I’m not sure. What kinds of packages for texting rates have you heard are available from mobile providers for corporate accounts?

If financially feasible, texting can become the preferred way of delivering just-in-time training. The employee in the field can text a question to her manager, and her manager, or another co-worker, can send a text with the answer, or with an online link that will connect the employee to the company’s intranet, or to an attachment or graphic with the needed information.

For those your company is trying to recruit, texting is also great. Once applicants register with your organization’s microsite, they then also can sign up to receive texts every time a position in their area of interest, and with the right salary range, opens up. Then, they just click on the link texted to see the full job description. To go the extra mile, also make it possible for applicants to apply for the job right from their mobile device. To make it really easy, you would both text the announcement, as well as e-mail the announcement to applicants, so they can fill out the application on their computer if desired.

All this texting, and the need for enhanced mobile connections, makes me think many companies could use an HR and training mobile app that employees and job applicants could download. Do you think most companies would be interested and able to provide such an app, especially for mobile communications with employees and potential employees?

Does your company communicate via text with employees and prospective job applicants? Why or why not? What are the perils and rewards of doing so?


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