Companies are investing millions of dollars in enterprise systems used for recruiting, learning delivery, workforce and performance management, coaching and career development, and other workforce needs.
These system investments bring significant benefits and efficiencies to HR, the company’s workforce and potential employees. But despite the fact that they typically touch every employee or job candidate, rarely are these workhorse systems factored into a company’s communication strategy.
To say this is a missed communication opportunity is an understatement.
The Email Conundrum
To illustrate, let’s look at a couple examples: A typical learning management system (LMS) sends out emails for a variety of reasons, including new product/service announcements, event registration invitations, form completion reminders, and many more. In a company of 2,500 employees, an LMS could easily send out upwards of 50,000 to 100,000 employee emails in a year.
In that same company, a talent acquisition system (TAS) would likely manage thousands of employment applications and send out several email communications for each application received. These emails are likely candidates’ first exposure to the way your company communicates with its workforce.
Unfortunately, in most companies, the job of crafting the automated emails issued by such systems goes to administrative personnel who are likely to have little-to-no writing experience and are rarely briefed on key messages that reinforce employer branding or business positioning. Therefore, most often the language used in these automated emails is made up of “vanilla” default text: “Thank you for your application. We’ll be in touch soon.” “Reminder: You are scheduled for ‘Management Skills 101’ on Monday, July 24. Please arrive on time.” These messages are hardly compelling, memorable or strategic for your brand.
Routine Work-Related Communications: An Important Branding Opportunity
With some investigation and foundational work, you can transform these automated messages into internal communications that support key strategy points, while still conveying essential information. Here are six ways to achieve just that:
- Learn the automated messaging capabilities of your enterprise systems. You’ll also want to understand the triggers that automatically signal the system to send a message (such as registering for an online course or completing an online application).
- Determine how strategy points can be incorporated into automated emails. Find ways that complement and reinforce your messaging. For instance, an automated response to an individual who submitted an application for a tough-to-fill engineering job could highlight some of your company’s differentiating workplace benefits, in addition to thanking her for the application submission. An email that follows the successful completion of an online supervisory course could reinforce your company’s commitment to developing leaders from within the organization.
- Understand ancillary communication features offered by the system. Some systems make it relatively easy to segment lists, grouping employees by job titles or types, geographic regions or business units. Use these features to customize messages to increase their relevance to different audience groups. Messages to employees who work remotely, for instance, may differ from those sent to the corporate headquarters staff. A follow-up to an all-company webinar might highlight different takeaways for managers and supervisors than a follow-up sent to hourly employees.
- Craft your communications thoughtfully. Ensure the writing of these messages matches the quality of writing you’d insist on for customer-facing communications. Creative subject lines and subheads can increase attention and interest. Copy should be easy to read, easy to understand, on brand, and grammatically correct. Work with system administrators and other employees responsible for managing internal communications and chats to help them understand strategic communication points for reinforcement. Brainstorm ways these points can be worked into automated email copy, or consider enlisting writing talent outside your department for creative inspiration and support.
- Think like a marketer to boost metrics. Many systems produce reports that can show open, bounce and click-through rates. Take advantage of the information that can be gleaned from these to determine which messages employees are responding to – and which are getting ignored.
- Use design to your advantage. Find out what design enhancements can be made to messages, such as copy, formatting, use of colors, and font selections to increase appeal and readability. If needed, take advantage of marketing talent or hire a design professional to fully enhance your design capabilities. Think of these messages as “instant ads” for your brand: They should look as appealing and compelling as possible.
When enterprise systems are overlooked as integral components of a corporate communication strategy, companies miss out on the full value of their investments. And just as importantly, employee and candidate experiences are not as rich, relevant and meaningful as they could be.
An important tenet of any successful communication strategy is to take advantage of every touchpoint to reinforce key messages. Enterprise systems can be hugely effective to ensure your messages filter into the everyday work lives of current and potential employees. Better yet, they can likely be leveraged without making incremental technology investments.