by Feb 20, 2019 ||
In the past five years, workplace messaging platforms (also referred to as chat apps) have become increasingly popular. In fact, messaging platforms have acquired millions of active daily users in the past five years. In addition to traditional email, many businesses use workplace chat apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Flock for internal communications.
Collaborative messaging platforms are better than email for quick questions, back-and-forth collaborative conversations and group brainstorm sessions. Email is more appropriate for wide and targeted broadcasts, along with longer, more thoughtful and/or more critical messages.
There are pros and cons to both email and chat apps. Chat is real-time but can be distracting. Email can be scheduled but it can also lead to information overload. So when should you opt for email over chat?
For undivided attention. Chat is efficient, but messages fill a quick-moving feed; You send a message and in two minutes, seven people respond. For important messages that require someone’s undivided attention, email is the better channel. Executive communications, HR/Benefits info, policy and procedure updates, action items and even Company news digests, work better in email. If the recipient doesn’t have time to read the message now, they can flag it and return to it later.
Emotionally difficult topics. Emotions are difficult enough to decipher in email, never mind chat. Immediate misinterpretations may cause chat storms to spiral out of control. For instance, messages about layoffs, plant closures, acquisitions or an employee death will likely happen face-to-face, but are often followed by comforting words, offers for employee assistance and other important details. Email—with an appropriate subject line—can prepare recipients for the content, and include all forms of messaging, whether it’s text, audio, video or all of the above.
Technically-complex information. While chat messages are great to ask quick questions and crowdsource answers, they’re not the best tool for sharing in-depth, technical or complex information. For procedural and process change management, email is a more valuable channel. Behavioral follow-up tools can be used to ensure the audience has read and understands the required information. Email is a good way to distribute documentation summaries and link to deeper content like tutorials. That way, you can follow up based on readership and viewership, and perform simple email surveys to evaluate comprehension.
Action Items. When you need people to complete something outside of their normal, day-to-day workflow—think: benefit selections, event attendance or program participation—email is the answer. These types of messages, especially when combined with calendar reminders, work best as emails. Broadcasting reminders via chat apps can be useful, but if you want people to actually take action something, it’s better to schedule your ask as an email at the beginning or end of the workday.When Email Beats Chat
In an effective internal communications strategy, there is room for both email and chat. That said, at times, email is more appropriate than chat and vice versa. If your message requires the undivided attention of a recipient, is emotionally difficult, covers complex information or asks an employee to complete something, it’s best to opt for email.