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Employee Distribution Lists for Better Internal Communications


When you need to communicate with your employees, you’ll get the best results if you communicate with the right people in the right place at the right time. By creating distribution lists and keeping them up-to-date you will be able to reach your employees when you need to, with the information that they need.

Table of contents

What are employee distribution lists?

Ways to create employee distribution lists

8 of the most useful internal distribution lists

The benefits of list segmentation

Distribution list management with DeskAlerts


What are employee distribution lists?

Employee distribution lists are lists that contain groups of employees that are categorized in a particular way. In addition to one list of all employees, there may be sub-categories such as all full-time employees, all members of the sales team, all employees who work on level 11 of the office building, all employees located in a particular city, etc.

Employees fitting the criteria for a specific list have their contact details added to it so that they can be sent messages as a group and receive the same information.


Ways to create employee distribution lists

There are different ways to create employee distribution lists, and how to go about it in your company will depend on your corporate IT environment. Most often, the IT department has control over creating, adding to and maintaining distribution lists. Other times you may be able to be delegated as an administrator, and in other cases, you may have complete control.


The main ways to create internal office communication lists include:

  • Creating “contact groups” in Microsoft Outlook and adding employees to them
  • External email marketing software, such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact let you keep your own lists that you can upload using spreadsheets
  • Use specialist distribution management software
  • Integrate internal communications software with Active Directory so that you don’t need to create new lists: you can automatically have distribution lists made based on answers that employees give to pop-up survey questions.


However you decide to create your employee distribution lists, it is important that you keep them up-to-date and have processes in place for managing them. Onboarding and offboarding employees should see them added or removed to all relevant distribution lists for their roles. 

But don’t forget to have processes for when an employee changes jobs but doesn’t leave the company. For example, if the employee is promoted, they may need to be added to a managers list. Or, if they transfer to another city, they may need to be on a list of employees who work in that location.


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8 of the most useful internal distribution lists

The first step is to create an all-employee distribution list. There are many other lists that you can set up within your organization to ensure the right information gets to the right people. You may have your own unique business needs when it comes to internal communications, but these are some of the more common internal distribution lists that work within most organizations:


1. Work team

Members of the same work team should be on a list so that they all have the same information about important things such as meetings, events, deadlines, team priorities, projects and so on.


2. Departments

Large organizations tend to be made up of many different internal departments which may then have different teams within the department (for example, the Human Resources department may have teams including payroll, health and safety and recruitment).  It’s important that entire departments have contact lists so that they understand the bigger picture and their department’s priorities.


3. Job function

In some organizations, there are people with similar job functions based in different departments. For example, there may be a business manager in each department or an executive assistant to directors of each department. Having distribution lists that include people with the same job function ensures consistency across the organization when it comes to processes and procedures.


4. Location-based lists

Nobody wants to get emails about something that’s happening in another city or another building that isn’t relevant. Location-based lists can help to minimize irrelevant information being sent out to those who don’t need to see it. You can have several different location-based lists depending on the structure of your organization.

My company, for example, has lists for users depending on which floor of our large city office building they are on so that only those employees are told about things like building maintenance or faults on that floor and nobody else is bothered by that information. You can have lists for everyone in the same office building, in the same city, in the same state, and in the same country if you are multinational.


5. Lists based on tenure

There are lots of different ways you can use lists based on how long someone has been with the company. For example, you may have lists for those who have been recently onboarded. Or perhaps you may have an intern or a graduate program that lasts for a specified period of time, and you want to add those employees to a list to communicate with them all together. In some organizations, there are benefits available to people with seniority in terms of tenure that aren’t available to other employees, so it makes sense to go up these employees together.


6. Leadership and management groups

Grouping together employees based on their leadership or management role in the company means that you can be sure that important information they need to know is delivered at the same time, and there can be a cohesive approach. Groups might include the board, the executive team, all department heads, all middle managers and so on.


7. Language groups

If you have a diverse organization, you may need to communicate with employees in several different languages – particularly if you are multinational. Distribution lists based on the employee’s preferred language are essential.


8. Custom lists for issues and events

There will be things that arise from time to time that will need a distribution list associated with it. For example, a new project. Other issues such as responding to health and safety issues like COVID-19 may require specific lists – for example, a list for any COVID-positive employees. Or a list of people who have indicated that they will attend a specific function.

Using surveys on DeskAlerts will let you create these custom lists of employees. For example, if you ask employees if they have any COVID-like symptoms, those who answer yes will be added to a list where you can send specific, targeted information. Or you could ask employees if they are planning on attending the office Christmas party – those who answer yes will receive further updates and those who answer no won’t have to be subjected to irrelevant news.


The benefits of list segmentation

Contact list segmentation enables you to communicate more effectively with your intended audience. Benefits include:

  • Sending only relevant information to your employees
  • Increasing employee engagement levels as internal communications are improved
  • Providing a more personalized employee experience
  • Gaining deeper insights into your employees’ internal communications response with the ability to benchmark different lists and teams to see who is looking at information and who isn’t
  • The ability to create targeted internal communications campaigns: for example, send any accounting staff information about end of financial year priorities


Distribution list management with DeskAlerts

When you use DeskAlerts as an internal communications system in your organization, one of its many powerful features is its ability to assist with distribution list management.

You can send DeskAlerts messages to the entire organization or send a targeted internal communication message just to specific groups of employees to be sure that only the relevant people are sent information.

You don’t need to enter all employee contact details into the DeskAlerets system – it can be easily integrated with the Active Directory system in Office. Any contact groups you have created will be synchronized with DeskAlerts, so you can continue to use those lists to send information to targeted employees. So any email lists you have will now be lists you can use on DeskAlerts to send pop-up alerts, desktop tickers, surveys, quizzes, polls, screensavers, corporate lock screens and other channel notifications.

The system will synchronize with your Active Directory regularly on a schedule, which means any system changes you make – like new additions or removals from lists – will take place automatically.

An added feature in DeskAlerts is the ability to create your custom lists for use within the system based on responses to survey questions.





How do you create a distribution list for people?

If you are using Office 365 you can create a distribution list by including addresses from several different sources within the system. Generally, you would create a list using the contact details of users who are in the corporate directory or a global address list, but you can also manually add new addresses to your distribution list if you need to. Once you have added all the people you want to the group, save the list. You should pay attention to naming conventions to ensure that it is easy for people to find the right list to send to.

What does a distribution list do?

A distribution list is a specific group of contacts who are compiled together to ensure that they receive the same information. Lists save time because you don’t have to add each person to send them information individually. It also means that people can’t be accidentally forgotten or left off the communications because they were added in the first place.

What is meant by a distribution list?

A distribution list is a technical term used to describe the built-in feature of email client programs and other software to maintain a list of recipients as well as their contact details. The distribution list is used to send identical information to everyone on the list at the same time.



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