Is your company’s internal communication (IC) primarily delivered using email? While it’s a great tool for certain types of communication, particularly supply-chain coordination and reaching out to customers, it can also be a big source of frustration. Email not only facilitates work, it has become a form of work in itself. Despite its enduring reign as a workplace tool, the long-term viability of email as a primary IC platform is worth evaluating.
What are the challenges with email?
Changing professional demographics
Generation Z is the newest generation in the workforce. They prefer social media, instant messaging, and texting. A 2012 Pew study highlighted that 95% of teens had an active online presence and 81% regularly used social media. However, just 6% of them sent emails. These individuals are today’s new employees, and they adapt to the increasing functionality of “smart software”. Mobile performance is an essential function. Mobile devices continue to outpace computer sales as work-related tasks on smartphones continues to grow.
Emails can be too long
Pew also highlighted that long emails aren’t being read, specifically by those under the age of 35 who feel a loss of patience. For them, there’s a “need for instant gratification”. If email is exclusively used for internal communication, then you’re risking your messages being skimmed, going unread, or simply being deleted.
Emails do not collect and analyse feedback
Collecting feedback for decision-making is not ideal. More so if evaluating feedback over time to trend employee sentiments.
Group Targeting can be a mess
Tailoring emails for groups can be stressful. Messages can be misinterpreted, or recipients are unintentionally left out. Modern platform channels enable you to manage groups according to employee department, location, or role. They are instantly updated when employees join or leave the company. This helps to efficiently target content.
Deskless employees don’t use email
Email can be an exclusionary communication method for deskless employees. Most of the global workforce does not operate at a desk and many may not have corporate email addresses.
Full inboxes are inefficient and slow. The sheer number of messages we now receive can lead to the most important ones getting lost, deleted, or forgotten. Emails can also be distracting if there’s content from numerous sources to which a user is subscribed. Another issue is that employees under pressure find that filtering important emails can make their workload overwhelming.
Lack of Engagement
How many of us use email frequently for personal communication? Emails don’t support engagement as they lack an easy user experience, while conversations become very difficult to track and share. As a format originally designed for desktops, it also can’t be considered ‘mobile-first’.
Lack of Channels
Internal communication consists of two primary content streams: company topics relating to work matters, and people centricity that builds a sense of community. In a busy inbox, each one will be dealt with in the same way, which results in priority messages becoming diluted with less critical information.
This is usually less of an issue for IC, but the risk of being cancelled out may still be there.
The following statistics are worth considering
According to a survey conducted by APPrise, 30% of employees admit they don’t read emails from their employers.
A survey by PoliteMail of 56 million internal email messages found that although 77% of employees opened internal emails, 37% of recipients read those messages and just 24% clicked through to see links or images.
And, is email making people miserable?
To study the effects of e-mail, a team led by researchers from the University of California, hooked up 40 office workers to wireless heart-rate monitors for twelve days. They recorded heart-rate variability, a common technique for measuring mental stress. They also monitored their computer use to correlate email checks with stress levels.
The outcome was: “While email use certainly saves people time effort in communicating, it also comes at a cost, the authors of the two studies concluded. Their recommendation? To “suggest that organizations make a concerted effort to cut down on email traffic.”
Whether or not email is the right tool is a moot question. Email isn’t going away any time soon. However, this should assume it remains part of a multi-channel communication strategy. A viable IC consideration is a platform that can offer a familiar feel and functionality of social media while delivering immediate access to real-time company information. Supporting this suggestion is a national survey conducted with The Center for Generational Kinetics. They found that one-third of American employees said they would quit their jobs if the technology they had to use was outdated. This number is likely to increase as Generation Z further populates the workforce.
It’s clear that companies wanting to remain competitive and attract the best talent must deliver technology that engages, is mobile-optimized, and makes life simpler for the end user.