You want your employees to be focused on their work. Yet sometimes you need to grab their attention, to alert them to a meeting or deadline or other bit of important work-related information. However, getting the attention of office workers, who sit in front of a computer all day and receive dozens or hundreds of emails, has become increasingly difficult. It’s even more challenging getting the attention of younger workers, particularly millennials, who tend to get their news from social media and often ignore or don’t respond to email. And what about workers who don’t have access to a computer, or can’t use a cell phone, during their shift? How can employers effectively reach these different groups to improve workplace communication? Following are six suggestions.
Use digital signage. Place screens in areas where workers are known to gather such as cafeterias and break rooms. Consider other high traffic areas such as the shop floor, customer service area or call centers. Broadcast important information, about upcoming meetings, company news, health insurance and 401(k) enrollment deadlines, events, etc. Rotate and repeat messages throughout the day, or week to ensure that all workers see and absorb them.
Unlike emails, which can get lost in employees’ inboxes (or easily deleted), information that is broadcast on digital signage is more likely to be read, talked about, and absorbed by employees because it is visual and dynamic.
Make subject lines stand out. Even if your company uses digital signage, don’t abandon email. As many of today’s workers are mobile or work remotely, email is still an important communication tool. To reduce the risk of workers accidentally deleting, or ignoring company emails, make sure your messages stand out.
If messages are urgent, or require an immediate response, mark them URGENT, or REPLY REQUIRED, at the start of the subject line.
If the message is important but not urgent, craft a subject line that will get workers’ attention, perhaps injecting a bit of humor. For example, say you want workers to know about an after-work happy hour the company is sponsoring. Your subject might read “Did someone say free beer?” Or maybe you’re rolling out a new sick-day policy that’s important for all to know about. Try using an eye catching headline such as “Sick of work?”
Personalize or tailor messaging. Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever. To reach the widest possible audience, consider customizing your messages/emails – using one subject line for one group of workers and another subject line for a different group. Digital signage is a great way to deliver targeted content. Consider where the screens are located and post content that will resonate with those workers. Examples of this include motivational quotes for the call center, safety messages for the plant floor and health and wellness tips for the screens in the cafeteria.
Keep content short and to the point – and use visuals. Whether using digital signage, email, or some other form of electronic communication, it’s important to keep your message short and to the point. Today’s workers have very short attention spans and are more distracted than ever. So, to better capture their attention, keep content to just a few sentences (if possible), using bullet points, images, typography, colorful graphics or video to illustrate your idea.
Use social media. Some companies have embraced the old adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” by joining social media sites like Facebook and creating private company pages to post messages and get input or feedback from employees. For issues that require or can benefit from employee feedback, having a private group/company Facebook page can be particularly effective, especially if a majority of your employees are already on the social networking site.
Use gamification and rewards. Another way to grab employees’ attention, and foster healthy competition among workers, is to use gamification and rewards. For example, launch a short term program to spot safety hazards or reduce waste. Use digital signage to announce the initiative and explain the rules. Then display the results and recognize the winners. Post their pictures on your digital signage screens. Offer a reward (e.g., gift card, a great parking spot, comp. time, etc.) for their contributions.
Or maybe your business supports a local charity. To help raise money, you could offer a prize (e.g., an Amazon gift certificate or a Starbucks gift card) to the person who raises the most money. You can also use gamification throughout the year, awarding workers points for completing various tasks, which they can “cash in” for some prize or reward at the end of the year.