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Business support groups like HR, IT, facilities, etc. need to communicate changes and updates out to employees often. Probably too often. You can’t blame these groups though, they have a responsibility to communicate compliance rules, training, changes to processes, downtime and improvements.

Your email is probably already inundated with useless information and now these notifications compound it. As a result, almost everyone filters or ignores these types of emails. Here’s some tips to manage a notification to ensure it is read.

To be fair, there will always be people that don’t read your notifications no matter what you do. These steps though should get people reading your email and at least transfer the responsibility to them to read it.

Step 1: Consistency
Well, you can’t start being consistent on your next email campaign, but you can put a good foot forward. Work with your team or organization and design a central notification sending address to work with. If you have a Corporate Communications or Internal Marketing group, work with them for reviewing, branding, and potentially sending.

For all notifications your organization sends out, use the same sending address so your employees begin to recognize the sender (and hopefully not set up a rule).

Design a reusable format that will be the standard for your organization.

Step 2: Pick Your Audience
Make sure that your audience is appropriate. For example, if you rebooting an email server that serves only 100 people, only send the notice to the 100 people. If you communicate useless information out to the masses, it will train them to tune you out.

Step 3: Include Something Actionable if Required
It is absolutely the worst when you send a notification that requires an action from your employees, but it goes into a black hole and no one does what they need to.

In the Subject line, include an ACTION REQUIRED: so that employees know they need to do something. This should halt them from deleting it immediately. Include dates to complete by in the subject or body of the message.

As a helpful side note, if there is an action required, be sure you have a way to track it and don’t be afraid to send follow ups. This may be required for tracking compliance training for example.

Step 4: Avoid the Technical Jargon
Coming from IT, I can tell you – just avoid anything technical. Chances are it will be over the employees heads. Stick with the impact. If we continue the example about rebooting an email server, You will not be able to send or receive emails between from 1-3PM EDT on Saturday, Oct. 25th. Incoming messages from the internet will queue and be delivered after 3PM EDT.

Step 5: Leverage Your Leaders
For major changes, engage your managers and leaders with supplemental information so that they can reiterate the message if their teams ask. You can do this through leadership focused emails.

Step 6: Bonus!
This step is a bonus and includes one! If you are desperate to get people to read your notifications, include an incentive. Put a gift card reward for the 50th person to reply or some other incentive at the bottom of the email. Eventually, this will train your users to stop ignoring you.

All these steps should help you do everything you can to inform the employees through a notification. If they still refuse to read, you can always ask them for feedback on communicating better. For example, an IM broadcast might work better in an emergency.

Warning – ask people for their opinions at your own risk!