This spring, Gallup released the findings of its annual State of the American Workplace survey, that revealed 70% of the workforce is disengaged. Look around your workplace and try to imagine that only one-in-three of your employees is engaged in his or her work, while the others are likely wasting time on other activities — like looking for another job. It’s shocking to think about, especially if your company has been focused on improving the culture.

If employee engagement is at such all time lows, then what can I do? This is a perfectly reasonable question and one that all leaders should be asking. One possible solution is to reconnect with employees through the use of modern text messaging technology.

Why use text messaging with employees?

Texting has been around for some time and it’s relatively simple to start using. In the past, human resources has leaned heavily on communication tools like phone, email, and written materials to exchange information with employees. It seemed professional to do so. Yet, in this age when everyone is no longer chained to workstations and cubicles, this can delay the delivery of critical messages. Instead, many more working people have turned to mobile devices and smart phones, which enable the use and acceptance of text messaging.

Another factor to consider is that Millennials have recently surpassed the numbers of all other generations in the workforce. And how do they prefer to communicate?  By text messaging — you guessed correctly! A Gallup Poll found that texting is one of the top ways that Millennials prefer to communicate. In fact, it’s grown as, “ the most frequently used form of communication among Americans under the age of 50”.

How does texting support greater employee engagement?

Human resources leaders can embrace text messaging to not only maintain contact with employees but also to promote employee engagement. How? Here are a few ideas to implement:

  • Use texting to remind employees about training opportunities, including benefits and wellness program education, messaging, and reminders
  • Send text messages out during benefits open enrollment
  • Create group text messages to share team successes and updates
  • Text meeting requests and links to agendas ahead of time
  • Send birthday and anniversary text messages to employees
  • Collect missing information during onboarding and enrollments
  • Provide quick access to employee surveys
  • Send out safety and emergency preparedness tips
  • Maintain contact with team members during emergencies
  • Alert employees about important IT updates, maintenance, drills, etc.
  • Share educational content via text messages to improve knowledge

These are just a few of the many ways that text messaging can be used to boost employee engagement and make the workplace more open in terms of communication. A good plan of action is to utilize a human resource information system with built-in communication tools. This is important for two reasons. First, it maintains the confidentiality of employee and corporate information. Second, it ties messages to specific members of the HR and management team so they can be responded to promptly. Look for a system that enables sharing of images and website links.

When evaluating your benefits consulting firm, find out what options are available for text messaging of employees. A secure system that protects sensitive health data is your best bet.