While the announcement of TikTok’s possible ban in the United States had millions of users scrambling to save videos and share content elsewhere, the parallel ban on WeChat had many employers searching for new ways to communicate with employees and keep business going. In late September, just weeks after the executive order against the Chinese-owned social apps was issued for alleged national security risks, Chevron sent a staff email asking employees to remove WeChat from their devices. The company called the app “non-compliant” and gave those who installed it on their work handsets just a few days to delete it.
The Chevron situation highlights a significant challenge for businesses right now, especially amid the pandemic: how can employers facilitate communications with and among employees – something so critical to business success (and, right now, employee safety) – while also adhering to company and industry policies and standards? This challenge is particularly difficult for those in the hospitality and gaming industries, of which 3 in 4 employees don’t work at a desk, and 83 percent don’t have access to corporate email accounts.
Facilitating communication among this subset of workers is the lifeblood of hotels and casinos. Day in and day out, these non-desk workers are “running” the business – they are the ones cleaning rooms, fixing machines, serving drinks, driving shuttles, providing entertainment and the list goes on. And internal miscommunication has shown to have a significant, negative impact (with non-desk workers often caught in the middle) – to the tune of $62.4 million annually for those with greater than 100K employees.
When it comes to choosing a communications strategy and solution, there’s no one-size-fits all answer. As your organization thinks about facilitating communications with your employees, here are the factors to consider:
You need to be where employees already are, within the habits they already have. According to Pew Research, the vast majority of Americans own some kind of cell phone, and digital natives (Millennials and Gen X) make up the majority of the labor force, including the hospitality workforce. With the continuing generational shift in employment, even more employees will begin to rely on mobile devices for information (rather than traditional methods of receiving information like word of mouth, bulletin boards or phone trees). Soon, the industry’s entire workforce will be composed of employees who have grown up in the digital age, leading employers to rethink how they evolve and best leverage this technology platform.
- Privacy and compliance
Privacy has emerged as a top priority (if not the top priority) in today’s digital landscape. So much so, that companies and industries at large, and even states and countries, are putting laws and regulations in place for data protection. Hotels and casinos must manage employee, customer/player and organizational data, while juggling state, country, and gaming-specific regulations. These companies must do their due diligence to protect data & manage security and compliance for all parties interacting with their businesses.
Structure plays a significant role in efficiency and productivity. You want to reach the right people with the right information on the right platforms. Broad open channels like email, newsfeeds like Workplace from Facebook or social media style communication like Slack can work well for desk-based workers since they’re built for easier collaboration, sharing of documents and other functions important to that specific workforce. But loosely structured communications channels can also be distracting, disruptive and irrelevant. In fact, Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction, says it can take around 23 minutes to return to the task at hand after being interrupted – which, for hotels, casinos and other companies that rely on the productivity of their workforce for success, can be devastating to their bottom line.
- Scale and customization
How well will your platform grow with you? This is especially important for growing companies and/or large companies with a wide range of workers like hotels and casinos. Oftentimes, there are messages targeted for a specific subset of workers, while other times there are messages meant for the entire workforce. A tool that allows you to do both at scale – send messages to certain groups of workers and streamline messages to the overall workforce – can help create operational organization and ensure important information is getting in front of the right workers.
- Real-time information delivery
Just as structure and scale are critical to the efficiency and productivity of your workforce, so is the speed at which information is delivered to your employees. While timely communication is important to most businesses and industries, it can be particularly important for businesses whose workforces are large, constantly on the frontlines and always on the move. Gaps in communication, or mere miscommunication, can cost companies millions of dollars. That is why it is important for businesses like hotels and casinos which have a 24/7 operation to keep their employees in the loop and up-to-date with the latest information.
As technologies, businesses, workforces and industries at large continue to evolve, it can be difficult to know how to organize your business communications and what tools are most useful to you and your employees. By evaluating key factors that are central to your company and workers, like privacy, scale, structure, etc., you can start to form a strategy and adopt the right technologies that will create the most productivity, efficiency, impact and success for your business.