Employee SMS

Text Alert System: Using SMS For Employee Emergency Alerts



By Alex Cleary


Some of your internal communications need to be sent with an urgency that email cannot keep up with. See how an SMS text alerts can quickly send information to your employees when they need it the most.

When you need to alert your employees to information that immediately needs their attention, waiting for them to check their email inbox just doesn’t cut it.

We’ll show you how to augment your existing internal communications channels with an SMS alert system. By introducing SMS text message alerts as part of your internal communications strategy, you’ll have a powerful tool for alerting employees to updates and information as soon as possible.

Pro tip: Still using an external email tool for your internal communications? STOP! See why ContactMonkey is a top Mailchimp alternative specifically made for internal emails. 

What is an Emergency SMS Text Alert System?

An emergency SMS text alert system allows you to inform employees via SMS messages about time-sensitive information that immediately affects them. SMS messages are the ideal medium for such information; your employees almost always have their phone at hand, whether they are at home, in the office, or on-site.

An employee SMS alert system can be used in numerous situations:

  • Notify employees of potential health and safety concerns via SMS crisis communications.
  • Prevent privacy and security issues by sharing IT alerts.
  • Send office closure updates to save employees finding out after arriving at the office.
  • Inform employees of shift updates and timetable changes.
  • Emergency notifications for important and critical events.
  • Send ongoing weather updates to employees.

The specific uses for your employee emergency alert system will vary depending on your business. You’ll have to assess what kind of information you’re sending and whether employees need it right away. We’ll explore how you can expedite your SMS employee communications later in this blog.

Why is an emergency text alert system important?

The primary aim of internal communications is to improve your employees’ experiences at your company. SMS text messaging is no different; by having an effective emergency text alert system in place you can prioritize your employees’ safety, time, and productivity.

Employee SMS alert systems are an effective way of improving your company’s crisis communications approach. Not only should your crisis communications outline what information you send to who, but they should also outline what channels are the most effective in any given situation.

Leverage SMS text messages with other internal communication channels like email, instant messaging, intranets, digital notice boards, and more to ensure your business can easily prioritize employee wellbeing.

What are the Benefits of Using an SMS Text Alert System?

We’ve emphasized the importance of using SMS text alerts in addition to your other internal communications channels, but let’s examine the specific benefits of this particular medium.

Reaches more employees 

Despite the near-ubiquitous nature of email, not every employee has easy access to their inbox. For those companies that have employees working on-site, on frontlines like healthcare workers, or any deskless situation, email access is not a luxury.

Mobile phones, however, go where your employees go. So long as your employees have cellphone reception, they’ll be able to receive your SMS text message alerts.

Learn how a text messaging service can transform your internal communications strategy.

Faster response

Not only are text messages more accessible than emails, they’re more immediate as well. Few people will have an email alert system comparable to their phone chiming or vibrating upon receiving a text message.

These physical reminders to check an SMS message mean your recipients are more likely to read your messages immediately, rather than whenever they open their inbox. In fact, 90% of SMS text messages get read in the first 10 minutes of receiving them.

Easy to update with new information

Since text messages alerts are faster to draft and send, you can use them to provide ongoing updates to your employees. For example, if your business is experiencing IT issues that prevent employees from accessing resources, you can provide them with updates as your IT team works out the problem and notify them the instant they’re able to get back to work.

Employees treat messages with more importance

Your employees likely receive hundreds of business emails per week, even if they aren’t all from your business. But the number of business texts they receive—if any—will invariably be smaller, so when they do receive a business text message they’ll be more likely to pay attention to it.

The rarity of your SMS notification system emphasizes every message’s importance. If you overuse your text notification system, you’ll cause your employees to tune out. Establish clear guidelines for when SMS text message alerts are used, and stick to that cadence to ensure your employees give them the attention they deserve.

How to Set up an Emergency Text Alert System

Sending an SMS text message to all or a select group of employees simultaneously can be a big task if you’re not prepared. Mobile phone manufacturers limit the number of recipients you can include on a single message; iPhones restrict users to 10 recipients per message, or 32 if you’re using their group messaging iMessage system.

If you need to send a message to thousands of your employees, you’re going to need a dedicated employee mass text software. Using ContactMonkey, you can draft and send employee SMS text message alerts from the same platform you manage your other internal communications. It’s super easy to send SMS text message alerts to employees and provide updates when need be.

Naming your SMS campaigns

Just like with internal email campaigns, use easy-to-understand descriptions of your SMS campaigns so you can identify them when looking for them later. You can quickly view past SMS campaign messages by clicking on them with your SMS analytics dashboard:

Screenshot of ContactMonkey's SMS campaign list dashboard.

From this menu, you can view how many employees the message was sent to, as well as how many employees opted out of your SMS alerts.

Distribution lists

Not every text message alert you send will necessarily be relevant for every employee. In order to keep employees attentive to your text alerts, it’s best to only send them to those who the update directly applies to.

Distribution lists are a powerful tool to organize your employees into groups based on different criteria—like job title, location, department, and even primary language. Using ContactMonkey’s SMS campaign dashboard, you can send text alerts to different groups of employees using CSV files:

Screenshot of distribution list selection menu within ContactMonkey's SMS dashboard.

Quickly send messages to multiple CSVs by copying and pasting the message into a new message field after you’ve sent the previous message. This also gives you the opportunity to change any information to tailor it to that specific group of employees.

SMS campaign dashboard

After you’ve sent your SMS text alert, you can see statistics about your current and past SMS campaigns. View how many messages you’ve sent to your overall recipients, and check your bounce rate to see the percentage of messages that were not able to be sent, due to deactivated or invalid phone numbers, spam filters, no service, or other factors.

When using ContactMonkey for SMS emergency alerts, bounce rate is a crucial statistic that lets you know the reach of your message. When your message concerns the health and safety of your employees, knowing which of your employees didn’t receive a message can help you calibrate your outreach approach.

Who can use an emergency text alert system?

With a solid crisis communications plan in place, you will have outlined who your stakeholders are and what their responsibilities will be in the event of an emergency or crisis event. It’s common for members of your communications team to be part of this stakeholder group, as it’ll be their responsibility to notify employees of the nature of the event and the appropriate steps to take.

For other companies, these responsibilities will be under the umbrella of Human Resources. HR is often responsible for internal communications in certain industries, when companies do not have a dedicated internal communications team.

Ultimately, the person or people in charge of your emergency text alert system should be those familiar with your crisis communications response protocols, and have a thorough knowledge of the communication channels within your company.

ContactMonkey provides a crisis communication template that you can download for free to use at your business.

Best practices for implementing an emergency text alert system

The efficiency of your SMS text message alerts will be influenced by how you implement them into your overall internal communications strategy and how well you’ve informed your employees about the system.

Employ these SMS best practices for your emergency text messages to ensure your employees give them the attention and seriousness they deserve.

Understand who needs to receive what and when

Not every text message alert will need to go to every employee. For instances like weather alerts and office closures, these events will only affect employees at certain locations. Tailor your messages for who you’re sending them to, and keep the information relevant to your recipients. And be sure to adhere to the rules of business texting message etiquette.

Keep your distribution lists updated

This practice helps you avoid sending irrelevant information to employees. It also helps you adhere to the TCPA and avoid sending SMS messages to employees who have left your company, which can result in significant fines.

Pre-drafted messages

The faster you can send out your SMS text alerts, the sooner your employees can act on that information. Create pre-drafted messages to address situations that your business may experience in the future, leaving space to plug in the relevant information for the current instance.

ContactMonkey provides free SMS internal communications templates and employee communications SMS templates that can be customized to fit your specific business needs. From crisis communications to IT alerts and updates, there are countless cases where a pre-drafted message can help you prioritize safety and productivity.

Test your SMS sending system

Ensure that you’re ready for anything by regularly testing your SMS messaging system. Create a regular testing schedule so your employees know when to expect test messages; this will prevent them from disregarding your actual emergency text messages.

Outline situations for sending text message alerts

In addition to informing employees when you’ll be testing your messaging system, you should make it clear to them what situations warrant an emergency text alert. These should correspond with the situation you’ve outlined in your crisis communication plan as well as your internal communication strategy.

This will help your employees understand the importance of engaging with your text messages should they receive any. It is also important for gaining your employees’ express written consent for receiving messages in the first place. We’ve outlined the importance of consent and getting employee text message opt-in in relation to SMS messaging compliance. We recommend including this information during your employee onboarding or within your employee handbooks.

Emergency Text Alert System FAQs

Check out these quick summaries of the information in this blog based on our most frequently asked questions:

What is a text message alert?

  • A text message alert is a concise message sent to your employees’ mobile devices containing information that needs their attention immediately.

When should I use text message alerts?

  • Assess the business situations where your employees’ or business’ wellbeing can be protected by providing relevant information right away.

How can you send emergency messages to your employees?

  • Use an internal communications SMS messaging system like ContactMonkey to draft, send, and track your emergency text messages.

What are the laws surrounding emergency text messages?

How do I know if my employees received our emergency text messages?

  • Using ContactMonkey, you can measure the bounce rate of your emergency text messages, and see which of your employees did not receive the SMS text alert.

Optimize Your Internal Communications With SMS Text Alerts

SMS text message alerts are a powerful tool you can use to make your internal communications more immediate and impactful. Combined with a comprehensive internal communications strategy, you’ll be able to effectively notify your employees of information that needs their immediate attention and send them updates when need be.

ContactMonkey’s all-in-one internal email software has easy-to-implement employee SMS messaging features that allow you to centralize your internal communications within a single platform. Create emergency text messages and templates, quickly send them to different segments of employees when they’re required, and track which of your employees did not receive them so you can investigate why.

Want to see how SMS text alerts can fit into your business’ internal communications approach? Book a free demo to see ContactMonkey’s SMS features in action:

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