Use workplace communication channels to re-engage employees

The average employee receives more than 120 emails every day. Employees are so swamped with messages that the goal of achieving “inbox zero” has become virtually impossible. In fact, employees are so fed up with overloaded inboxes that they ignore email, making this pervasive internal communication tool ineffective.

It’s time to jump off the email bandwagon with a clever mix of old and new employee communication tools that will reach your employees in unexpected places and surprising ways.

Here are three ways to refresh your workplace channels:

  1. Posters and digital screens

Roadside signs get noticed because they are visual and quickly get to the point. That’s why Hollywood movie studios, advertisers and retailers use posters to grab people’s attention. You should, too.

Posters and digital signs are effective at getting employees’ attention as they move through the workplace—in the cafeteria, hallway or waiting for the elevator.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Stick to a single focus. Focus on one message and highlight only necessary information. Employees don’t have time to look through content and find the important information. So keep it short and sweet.
  • Create a strong theme. Find a compelling theme that will attract employees and make them want to stop and scan the content.
  • Pique interest with a compelling image. Use one arresting visual to underscore your theme. Think billboard.
  • Be relevant. Provide information about upcoming events at your location. Employees don’t care about a happy hour that’s in another country.
  • Keep content timely. Even the best-looking posters and digital signs will be ignored if you don’t keep them alive with new information. Don’t keep the same material up for longer than two weeks. After that, if the information is still relevant, change your messages or visuals and give them a fresh look.

While posters have been around a long time, digital signs make the most of new technology. This allows you to use motion graphics and animation to make your message more dynamic.

Here are some ways to get the most out of your digital signs:

  • Keep videos short. If you include video, limit the length to 20 seconds. Remember to add captions or key words if there’s no sound on your screens.
  • Think about the pacing. Displaying a digital message is pointless if the content moves too fast for employees to read at a glance. On the flip side, a display that moves too slowly will bore employees. Start with 12 to 14 seconds and watch employees as they view the screens. Feel free to ask for their input.
  1. Bulletin boards

Bulletin boards are an effective—and often overlooked—channel. They may seem old school, but they’re still relevant.

One clear advantage to using bulletin boards as an internal communication channel is the ability to show several messages at once¬. With some planning, a bulletin board can reach all of your employees—including those who don’t sit in front of a computer all day.

Here are tips to make your bulletin boards an effective communication channel:

  • Develop a consistent architecture. Develop a blueprint to organize information on your bulletin boards, similar to an intranet sitemap. Make sure the layout flows nicely and doesn’t overwhelm readers.
  • Remember the importance of location, location, location. Targeting high-traffic areas is critical. Don’t post bulletin boards in areas where employees won’t notice them. Instead, put them in open areas where employees are more likely to stop and take a look, such as in the cafeteria or in a break room.
  • Use eye-catching techniques. Take a lesson from Instagram and Pinterest and use impactful visuals. Photos, infographics, illustrations, icons and bold colors will draw employees in.
  • Repurpose bulletin board messages as flyers. Give them to each employee or make them available in central locations. Try putting them into acrylic frames for cafeteria tables, break rooms or reception areas to reinforce key messages.
  • Encourage participation. Pose a question and have Post-it Notes handy for employees to share their ideas. You can do a lot with their input. Their thoughts can help you shape content for your other channels, like your intranet, e-newsletter and town hall meetings.
  1. Out of the box

When looking for an employee communication channel that’s really different, try giving employees something they don’t expect. Try things like table tents, window clings and floor decals. The list is endless once you get creative.

How about coffee cup sleeves? Think about it, almost everyone drinks a hot beverage at their desk, especially in the morning. So, taking advantage of that to communicate with employees makes sense.

To use coffee cup sleeves or any of these ideas as an internal communication channel, keep the following things in mind:

  • Be unique. Try using an eye-catching text treatment and colors that stands out.
  • Keep it short. There isn’t room for a lot of words, so make sure you get right to the point. This channel is best used as a bite of information, not an entire meal.
  • Add a little humor. Employees enjoy starting their day off with a cup of coffee and some laughter to go along with it.

What’s the best mix?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to developing effective communication channels in the workplace. It all depends on your situation and what resources are available to you.

Originally published at

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