The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is posing challenges for business operations all over the world as organizations have to quickly put new systems in place to ensure their employees can work from home during social distancing, lockdown and quarantine periods that are being enforced by governments around the world.
These new working arrangements are likely to last for several months – potentially even longer in some parts of the world - meaning that businesses need to look to implement more lasting, robust and reliable systems to overcome different challenges that are being posed.
One such challenge is internal communications. Reaching employees who are working from many different locations and preventing “silos” from developing is a real concern for many businesses. Not only to employees need to stay informed with important company developments, policies and so on, there is also the necessity to communicate urgent information and health and safety messages throughout the pandemic crisis.
Sometimes you may need to send information quickly – whether it is a quick message to all employees or a warning. Finding a more direct method of communication than email is essential to ensure everyone is kept in the loop.
A good solution is to invest in a staff notification system which can be used to keep your employees both safe and informed.
What should you consider when looking for a staff notification system?
There are many different staff notification systems on the market, each with different features. In general they allow you to quickly communicate with employees on a range of issues, using different delivery methods.
Some factors to consider when choosing a staff notification system for your organization include:
1. What kinds of situations can it be used in?
We can all agree a global pandemic of the scale and impact of COVID-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime event none of us have ever experienced before. Sending urgent communications during this crisis is essential for any organization.
But when the pandemic is over there are still other emergency situations that a staff notification system can be used for - and indeed it is advisable to be prepared to do so. This includes scenarios such as fire, natural disasters, severe weather, bomb threats, active shooters, gas leaks, chemical spills and more.
Not only that, there are numerous non-emergency situations where you may need to notify the entire organization: for example, an important external news event that affects your company, an IT outage, new policies and procedures you need your employees to begin complying with, and so on. If you can use a staff notification system in a range of different situations, it is much more cost effective.
2. How easy is it to use?
A staff notification system should be something that can be used quickly and easily. After all, during a crisis situation, every second counts. If there are lots of complicated steps to take to send the notifications, it might not be the right fit.
3. Can it be used across different devices and channels?
Some staff notification systems are limited to only sending text messages, or only sending to computer devices. A multi-modal staff notification system will enable you to send messages via text message, email, push notifications to smartphones and tablets, digital signage, pop-up desk top alerts, social media feeds and more.
4. Can it improve your overall internal communications?
What different internal communication channels does your organization currently use? What could you be doing better? When you’re investing in a new staff notification system, this is a good opportunity to look at other ways of communicating in general.
Having a wide range of channels such as desktop tickers, corporate screensavers, corporate wallpapers and quiz modules in addition to the mass notifications function can be a very attractive bonus.
5. Does it offer good value for money?
When you look at all the different features bundled in to the staff notification system, is it much more cost effective to your organization to purchase one system compared with numerous standalone software tools that only have single functions?
6. Can it keep in touch with your employees, no matter where they are?
With remote work on the rise during the pandemic, you need a system that can reach people no matter where they are. Some systems, such as public address systems, only work in a specific physical location such as an office building or school campus.
Being able to send messages to employees in an intrusive way no matter where they are – working from home or traveling for work – is a feature you will definitely need at this time, and will provide benefits in the future.
7. Can you target niche audiences?
Many organizations have different offices and branches in different cities, states and countries.
During the pandemic there are different rules and regulations being imposed by local law enforcement in different jurisdictions. Information you need to send to your employees may contain very specific advice related to a particular geographic region. If you send the wrong information to the entire organization it could be confusing – or even deadly.
The ability to send custom messages to custom audiences can circumvent this issue.
Download the free spreadsheet to compare different staff notification systems.
8. Can you use it for two-way communications?
When time is of the essence you need to be able to communicate quickly with your employees. But there are some situations where you may need your employees to quickly communicate the other way.
Does the staff notification system have a way of accepting response or feedback, such as via a text window or poll/survey/RSVP module? This will help inform you about what is happening on the ground.
9. Does it capture data you can use at a later date?
Analytics are a powerful resource that are built in to many different software systems these days. They can help to build a picture of what happened during an event and what the response was. With a staff notification system it can let you know who saw your messages, when they saw them and what their response was. This can help to inform future usage of the system and also be included in any reports.
10. How reliable is the vendor?
Does the vendor of the staff notification system have a good reputation? Do they have favorable reviews from other clients who have used the system during a crisis? Does the vendor offer support? All of these factors should be weighed up when you are committing to such an investment.
If you’re looking for a staff notification system, consider DeskAlerts – a software system designed for effective information distribution within companies when traditional channels such as email, chats and instant messengers aren’t delivering the desired rate of engagement.
DeskAlerts delivers notifications from company management to employees through their workstations or mobile devices, allowing the sender to choose how invasive their message is - making it suitable for both "business as usual" and crisis communications.