- Brandon Daniell
How Text Messaging Powers Healthcare Human Resources Departments
For most employers, including healthcare organizations, 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 healthcare human resources (HR) departments must ensure critical messages are reaching large groups of — if not all — personnel, 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, and more specifically, two-way conversational texting.
Text messaging is the communication channel that allows healthcare organizations and their human resources departments to quickly, reliably, and successfully communicate with staff. It's the method of communication most likely to reach, be read, and engaged with by employees. It's fast, convenient, and greatly reduces the workload of HR staff and others tasked with internal communications. Two-way texting is also a highly efficient and effective way for staff to communicate with HR managers and organization leadership.
Healthcare Organizations Nationwide Are Using Text Messaging To Improve Staff Communication And Engagement
When it comes to texting in America, there are some eye-opening statistics, including:
More than 95% 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 98%.
SMS text messaging 4-5x the open rate of email communication.
30% of voicemails linger unheard for three days or more.
Average email open rate is under 20%.
Cost of mailing just one stuffed envelope is $1.20-$2.00.
Text messaging is also embraced by people of all ages.
In a mobile-led world and healthcare industry where staff engagement has become an essential strategy for short- and long-term success, two-way text messaging is a necessity. And with texting a universally accepted communication platform, it has become an invaluable asset for year-round, organization-wide communications.
Not all SMS texting solutions are the same. Healthcare organizations need solutions to fit their challenges. At minimum, an SMS texting platform should be cloud-based, include two-way texting capabilities and Tier 1 connectivity, comply with key standards (e.g., HIPAA, TCPA, CTIA, SSAE), and be easy to use and self-service for this environment of ever-changing, urgent communications.
12 Ways Healthcare HR Departments Use SMS Texting
Let's look at 12 ways healthcare human resources departments are leveraging two-way text messaging throughout their enterprise to improve end-to-end staff communication and engagement.
1. Recruiting and interview communication
Two-way conversational texting gives organizations a powerful solution that can help them more successfully attract and add the talent they need and overcome staffing shortage challenges. Facing intense competition for new personnel, texting can give organizations an advantage over competitors not utilizing this preferred communication channel.
SMS text messaging can be used to:
Announce open positions
Ask current staff for referrals and recommendations
Publicize referral bonuses
Promote job fairs
Communicate with prospective employees about job interview details (e.g., date, time, location, parking, directions, safety protocols)
Follow up with prospective employees after interviews (e.g., "Do you have any additional questions about our opening?", "Do you require any more information about our organization?")
2. Sending onboarding SMS text messages
Healthcare HR departments spend significant time overseeing the hiring of personnel — 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 new employees and steering them to additional resources, such as employee portals and required documentation. Uses for SMS texting include:
Links to onboarding materials
Training dates and locations
Deadlines and reminders
Surveys about the experience
3. Communicating about staff requirements and responsibilities
Healthcare staff have various requirements and responsibilities they must meet and complete, which will depend on their position, seniority, and organization type, among other factors. These requirements and responsibilities can be mandated by government agencies, accreditation organizations, the organization itself, and other entities. Ways to achieve compliance and complete responsibilities can include in-person activities (e.g., training/drills), completion of documentation (e.g., credentialing), online courses, and external seminars.
It can be difficult for staff to keep track of these requirements and responsibilities, their deadlines, and what staff must do to achieve and maintain compliance. A healthcare HR officer, possibly working in conjunction with a healthcare compliance officer, safety officer, heads of departments, and other team members, can use texting to streamline the delivery of this information. This helps better ensure personnel do what they need to and when they need to do it, which will also help keep the organization compliant and its staff and patients safe.
HR departments can send SMS text messages to inform staff about:
Credentialing, privileging, and peer review
Infection prevention/bloodborne pathogens
4. Strengthening culture
One could argue the importance of a healthcare organization's culture has never been greater. Culture is essential to retaining staff and attracting new employees. It's also critical for motivating staff to maximize their productivity and efforts to support their organization and one another. Text messaging is an effective way to keep culture in the spotlight and remind personnel of how much their employer values them and their work. Such uses for SMS texting include:
Staff appreciation events
Organization-provided food or service
Feedback and suggestions
5. Sending open enrollment SMS text messages
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 SMS texting platforms include helpful filtering functionality, such as the ability to perform outreach by employment status (e.g., full-time, part-time), preferred language, and other qualities, all of which help with engagement and enrollment participation. Send text messages to:
Announce start and end of open enrollment
Share links to benefits, FAQs, portal, and Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Issue reminders about using benefits
Provide contact details of the benefits representative
Deliver open enrollment information and reminders
6. Texting important details about benefits
In addition to using text messaging to support open enrollment, many healthcare organizations use text campaigns to drive engagement with and provide information about company-sponsored health and wellness initiatives. Text messages can also be sent periodically to staff to remind them about their available benefits (e.g., flu shots, mental health services, alternative therapies, fitness reimbursement, telehealth) 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.
Use SMS text messaging to provide:
Reminders about benefits
Links to additional information
Details about wellness program offerings and challenges
Instructions on how to fund and review an HSA and 401(k)
Reminders about flu shots and other vaccinations
Availability of W2 for taxes
7. Texting emergency and other time-sensitive information
The pandemic and increased frequency of natural and manmade disasters have served as reminders about the need for business resilience planning and importance of an effective emergency communication channel to support a resilience program. Texting has proven to be a fast and efficient means of keeping personnel current on expectations and developments affecting operations, such as the risk of a disaster, a team member testing positive for viruses like COVID-19 and influenza, and facility closures and delays in opening.
Examples of when two-way texting is particularly valuable are:
Disaster alerts and updates
Shelter in place and lockdown
Unexpected business closure
Physical and cyber security breach
The ability to send significant notifications to large numbers of staff, if not all personnel, and do so fast and with great certainty that those notifications will be read is very important in healthcare settings. Communications often concern urgent matters and issues — extending beyond emergencies — that pertain to many, most, or all staff. Use SMS texting to inform healthcare personnel about:
Surveyors on site
Drills and alerts
Loss of an employee
Road and mass transit closures/delays that may affect commutes
Start of construction (e.g., building, parking lot)
Negative media reports
8. Providing a mass/group announcement
Text messaging is the most effective means of communication when an organization needs to provide an update to or request of staff. Emergency and time-sensitive communications are examples of when mass/group text messaging comes in handy, but there are many other instances when an organization would want to reach and engage most or all personnel.
Organizations are sending SMS text messages to staff about:
Policy and procedure changes
Construction updates, including those affecting parking and entering/exiting the building
Scheduling gaps that must be filled
Revised hours of operation
Open positions (to aid with recruitment efforts)
Updated staff schedules
Start of open enrollment
Company initiatives (e.g., blood drive, milestone celebration)
9. Conducting SMS text message surveys
Looking at using two-way SMS texting for surveys, organizations are asking personnel to reply to questions via text or providing links within text messages that direct staff to longer, online surveys. Topics for staff surveys include employee experience, comfort with new policies and procedures, feedback on initiatives, and availability of educational resources. Targeted pulse surveys can also help organizations address issues before they become bigger problems, identify areas for improvement, and drive changes that can enhance staff satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
10. Sending date and deadline reminder messages
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 include reminders about open enrollment responsibilities, town hall meetings, cash bonus for new employee referral, on-campus blood drive, and scrub sales. Throughout the year, healthcare HR departments will likely have extensive instances to use two-way texting to share such timely reminders and help ensure staff do not miss out on responsibilities and opportunities.
11. Sharing positive news and providing staff support
We're seeing healthcare HR departments send SMS texts that share positive news and lift staff morale. Examples include organization milestones and recognitions (e.g., "named a best place to work"), staff milestones and recognitions (e.g., "celebrating 25 years with us this month"), noteworthy clinical accomplishments (e.g., increases in hospital quality star ratings, successful accreditation), and new leadership hires.
We're also seeing HR departments text uplifting words to personnel. 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, which can help with staff satisfaction and retention.
12. Segmenting groups for targeted text messages
One of the most beneficial functions of certain text messaging platforms is the ability for users to quickly send messages to specific groups of staff. While some messages may need to go to all staff, such as emergency announcements, many messages will only be applicable to certain segments of staff. This can include subgroup texts based on employment status, location (i.e., internal vs. remote), department, and seniority. The ability to send targeted, meaningful communications to these segments helps ensure staff engagement with messages. If staff receive non-applicable messages, they may begin to ignore messages or pay less attention to messages sent from their employer.
Instances when the ability to send group-targeted two-way texts are as follows:
Deadline reminders for those who have not completed a task (e.g., open enrollment, certification, training, annual staff survey)
New staff orientation
Department meeting and training
Benefits changes and updates
Messages for remote staff
Add SMS Texting to Your Healthcare Human Resources Communications Repertoire
For communication with healthcare personnel, two-way conversational texting is a channel that should be a part of any human resources department's strategy. In fact, one could make a strong case that it should be the backbone for healthcare HR communications. Texting requires no behavior change from staff: 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 personnel can send and receive text messages. The channel is there every day and usually checked frequently. For healthcare organizations that want to use SMS texting to communicate with patients, choosing HIPAA-compliant text messaging solutions like those from Dialog Health is critical.
Now is the time to start using text messaging to engage your staff more effectively and efficiently.