Employees want ham, not spam

Employees want ham, not spam

Strictly speaking, I’m a Gen Y-er. Apparently this makes me tech savvy, having grown up in the Age of Information, using social and other media in everyday life and probably dreaming about code, or whatever.  If your baseline is Neolithic cave woman, then sure, that’s me.

Technology has never really been my thing (except when old-fashioned methods such as posting wedding invites using the trusty envelope-and-stamp scenario ends up costing $140 as opposed to shooting off an email with one swift click of the mouse. Humph.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the digital age and am pretty accustomed to the ease of communicating via Facebook, email and SMS. Thanks to these technologies, checking in with friends, family, colleagues or employees has never been easier.

But just because organisational email communication is appropriate when, say, delivering a written brief or a policy update, that doesn’t mean it should be your go-to when informing your staff of massive organisational reform, for example. From a practical perspective, this kind of strategy could fail you on three fronts:

  1. The perpetual flow of emails employees receive day in and day out may simply mean that your cleverly crafted message gets lost among the noise.
  2. We’re all busy. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day read long-winded emails that have no direction. According to SnapComms, members within one organisation’s communications team worked out that staff were being asked to read emails “the equivalent of To Kill a Mockingbird, every month!” #aintnobodygottimeforthat
  3. Is it actually an acceptable form of communication to address something as major as organisational reform? If it’s an accompanying tactic to a larger communications strategy and not a standalone one, then sure; if you use the channel to provide employees with an aggregated list of business changes to guide how they do their jobs on a daily basis, that’s appropriate. But if your intention is to create unity and incite cultural change, then you should re-evaluate your methods.

People need comfort, the warm embrace of assurance. They need to know what’s changing and how it will impact them to be delivered in a direct, personable manner. We may be living in the 21st Century, the age of robot-driven flying taxis, but let’s not forget the feels that come with an O-G, face-to-face conversation.

Read also: Ballooning emails and unproductive meetings: where is it all going?

When email is the appropriate form of internal communication, I implore you – please click with care, or a virtual barrage of send-to-all diatribes may serve to spam your audience. According to Tonic Life Communications, organisations all too often fall into the trap of over-communicating important messages via email in an attempt to be seen as acting in a “trusted and transparent” way.

Instead, serve them quality, nutritious, get-it-in-your-gob content – or ‘ham’, as I like to think of it. Ensure your content is meaningful, considered, deliberate and selective.

To those out there in government and the public sector, madly devising your next comms strategy, ask yourselves: how have we communicated with employees in the past, and is it working? How do we know? Does it promote dialogue? Is it engaging, nutritious content (mmm…ham) or is it just spam? What’s the uptake of our messaging?

Consider too how big or geographically dispersed your audience is, which other channels and tactics you have at your disposal and what’s appropriate for the context. While email is certainly a cost-effective, relatively easy way to reach large groups of people quickly, it doesn’t always pack a punch when it comes to grabbing or sustaining people’s attention in the long-term.

What are some of your tried and true email strategies? Let us know in the comment section below.

Geography isn’t one of Chloe’s strong points which, thankfully due to her occupation as Senior Communication Strategist, isn’t something she’s had to master. Navigating her career to this point has, however, taken a few twists and turns along the way, with degree-long stopovers in the Psychology precinct before transitioning to Communication. Like peas and carrots, she believes the two have a natural synergy – one which creates the perfect platform for mindful content creation.

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