Open enrollment will soon begin for hospitals and their human resources (HR) departments across the country. For most employers, including hospitals and health systems, communication with employees represents an ongoing challenge. More traditional communication methods can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive, and often achieve suboptimal engagement. An employee might open and read information sent to them in the mail. They might open and read an email sitting in their inbox. They might notice and read a new poster hanging up in the breakroom. When the communication is important, and especially when it's time-sensitive, that's a lot of mights and a lot to leave to chance.
Since hospital human resources departments must ensure critical messages are reaching large groups of — if not all — employees, some of which may now be working remotely part or full time, they are increasingly adding and heavily leaning upon a different communication channel: text messaging.
Texting is fast, convenient, and inexpensive. It's also the method of communication most likely to reach, be read, and engaged with by employees.
Consider the following statistics about texting:
Nearly all (97%!) Americans own a device that can send and receive text messages.
90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent.
Responses to texts take an average of just 90 seconds.
Text messages have an open rate of 97%.
Text messaging is also embraced by people of all ages.
With texting a universally accepted communication platform, it's become an invaluable asset for hospital human resources departments, not only for open enrollment but year-round communications.
The following are four of the most significant reasons HR departments should add text messaging, specifically two-way texting, or explore how they can be relying upon texting even more.
1. Key human resources initiatives
There are many HR initiatives that immediately benefit from adding two-way texting to the communication mix, including the following:
Benefits enrollment. A series of automated texts that go out before open enrollment starts and throughout enrollment is a highly effective, yet simple way to increase engagement during this important period. Some texting platforms include helpful filtering functionality, such as the ability to perform outreach by employment status (e.g., full-time, part-time), preferred language, types of insurance held, and name of plan provider, all of which help with engagement and enrollment participation.
Onboarding new employees. Hospital and health system human resources departments spend significant time overseeing the hiring of employees — hiring that, for most organizations, has increased over these past few years as turnover has increased. The ability to automate onboarding-related messages via two-way texting can streamline the process by providing relevant information to the employee and steering them to additional resources, such as employee portals and time-sensitive documentation. HR departments can also text links to an onboarding checklist and educational materials, reminders about training sessions, information about required paperwork, and surveys about comfort with and questions concerning onboarding progress and training materials. Surveying new staff during their initial weeks and months at a hospital can help improve retention and identify ways to strengthen the onboarding experience going forward.
Wellness programs and available benefits. Once open enrollment is completed, many employers use text campaigns to drive engagement with company-sponsored health and wellness initiatives. Text messages can also be sent periodically to staff to remind them about available benefits and share links staff can access to learn more information about their benefits and review frequently asked questions. Such texts encourage staff to use available benefits, which contributes to staff wellness and satisfaction.
2. Important notifications
The ability to send significant notifications to large numbers of staff, if not all employees, and do so fast and with great certainty that those notifications will be read is very important in a hospital setting. Communications often concern urgent matters and issues that pertain to many, most, or all staff.
Here are examples of important notifications that hospitals and health systems we work with have communicated via text:
Shelter-in-place alerts. Unfortunately, the need for such alerts is rising. Fortunately, text messaging can help. The speed and ubiquity of text communication is the ideal way to communicate shelter-in-place alerts for emergency situations.
Surveyors on site. When surveyors from The Joint Commission, CMS, or other agencies arrive, a hospital can send a text to employees who should know about the survey with a message informing them that surveyors are on site.
Drills and alerts. We've had hospital clients use text messaging to inform employees when a drill or practice alert will be run and then send a second text when the drill or alert is concluded. This helps improve participation and engagement and avoid confusion around the timing and purpose of drills and alerts.
Weather-related updates. Text messaging is the best means of providing employees with weather-related schedule and work updates. It's a simple way to manage communication leading up to, after, and even during a weather disaster. Texting is especially helpful when updates are frequent, such as when a tornado, hurricane, or wildfire is approaching a community.
3. Timely reminders
One of the top reasons people prefer texting to other communication methods is the convenient delivery of timely reminders. After all, people do not want to miss matters of potential importance. That can be everything from open enrollment responsibilities, as referenced earlier, to informing staff about a cash bonus for a new employee referral, on-campus blood drive, upcoming scrub sale, and volunteer opportunity. Throughout the year, hospital human resources departments will likely have extensive opportunities to use their two-way texting to share such timely reminders.
4. Positive news and staff support
We're seeing human resources departments send texts that share positive news and lift staff morale. Examples include organization milestones and recognitions (e.g., "named a best place to work"), employee milestones and recognitions (e.g., "celebrating 25 years with us this month"), noteworthy clinical accomplishments (e.g., increases in hospital quality star ratings), and new leadership hires.
We're also seeing HR departments text uplifting words to staff. This can be everything from motivational quotes, to uplifting messages, to words of encourage and appreciation. These small gestures can help remind staff about how much they are valued and provide an organization with another way of showing appreciation.
Add Texting to Your Human Resources Communications Repertoire
For communication with hospital and health system employees, two-way texting is a channel that should be a part of any human resources department's strategy. In fact, a strong case can be made that it should be the backbone for HR communications. Texting requires no behavior change from employees: all they must do is provide their mobile number and check when text messages come in, which most already do.
Some two-way texting platforms, like Dialog Health, do not require staff to download an app or access a special website. Every mobile phone currently used by a hospital employee can send and receive text messages. The channel is there every day and usually checked frequently.
Now is the time to start using texting to engage your employees more effectively. Find out what two-way text messaging with Dialog Health can do for your hospital by emailing email@example.com or calling (877) 666-1132.